High-tech fabrics have the power to transform your clothes and body. Not only are they a fashionable choice that is one of the hottest trends, but these fabrics can change how you interact with the world. Multiple examples already exist and include wearable technology woven inside fabrics, hospital scrubs coated in copper to prevent infections, and electronic materials that act as a shield to protect soldiers. High-tech fabrics can also create energy and power devices while you move.
Fabrics That Protect
Many designers use fabrics that make a person warmer or cooler. From down jackets to thin cotton shirts, different materials can affect your body temperature while shielding you from the elements. However, high-tech fabrics take this to another level by offering additional safety and protection. For instance, medical professionals may soon wear hospital scrubs covered in a coating of copper to lower the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses. The scrubs could prevent infections with a thin layer of copper nanoparticles that have antibacterial properties. Silver and gold can also offer protection, but they are more expensive to use in high-tech fabrics.
Soldiers may also get extra protection from fabrics that act as a shield from biological threats such as bacteria or viruses. Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory designed fabric with flexible polymeric membranes that act like a second skin. The material is breathable because of carbon nanotube pores. Researchers point out that this type of fabric can block chemical agents and toxins.
Fabrics with built-in tech offer multiple features that range from smart fitness sensors to device connection gadgets. You can already find smart shirts from Ralph Lauren that track health data such as heart rate, breathing and walking. Tech also continues to infiltrate fitness with Quiksilver making heated vests for surfers that rely on waterproof batteries. In addition, high-tech fabrics will soon be able to power tablets or phones by generating energy from walking or running.
Google’s Jacquard pushes wearable technology in a familiar direction by offering fabrics that can connect to your favorite devices. Google partnered with Levi’s to create a denim jacket with a special snap tag on the cuff capable of connecting to a mobile device without any cords. The tag can alert you about incoming texts or play GPS navigation directions.
All of these examples are part of the electronic textile movement. These smart clothes combine tech with common materials to create instant connections with devices, so you never have to worry about losing your phone again.
- Wiley Online Library: Rugged Textile Electrodes for Wearable Devices Obtained by Vapor Coating Off‐the‐Shelf, Plain‐Woven Fabrics
- JACS: Self-Organized Frameworks on Textiles (SOFT): Conductive Fabrics for Simultaneous Sensing, Capture, and Filtration of Gases
- Journal of Nanomaterials: Durable and Washable Antibacterial Copper Nanoparticles Bridged by Surface Grafting Polymer Brushes on Cotton and Polymeric Materials
- Wiley Online Library: Carbon Nanotubes: Ultrabreathable and Protective Membranes with Sub‐5 nm Carbon Nanotube Pores
About the Author
Lana Bandoim is a freelance writer and editor. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and chemistry from Butler University. Her work has appeared on Forbes, Yahoo! News, Business Insider, Lifescript, Healthline and many other publications. She has been a judge for the Scholastic Writing Awards from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She has also been nominated for a Best Shortform Science Writing award by the Best Shortform Science Writing Project.