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Facing the Arctic

Swatches | December 1, 2022 | By:

A tactical air control party specialist assigned to the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron, descends while conducting training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Photo: U.S. Air Force / Alejandro Peña.

Dr. Braden Li, a materials research engineer with the Air Force Research Lab, is working on developing clothing for the Air Force designed for protecting personnel in extreme-cold environments—to minus 60 degrees (F). His presentation outlined the Air Force requirements, and he explained the Heat Enhancing Arctic Textiles (HEAT) approach in meeting its list of Key System Attributes (KSAs).

Li and colleagues in the Air Force Research Lab Liquid Electronics Group are experimenting with Textile-Integrated Liquid Metal Electrodes (TILEs) and have developed a blade coatable ink to create HEAT for active heating wearables designed to specifically meet KSAs. Li says the problem with a polymerized liquid metal is that it oxidizes in air, but with their process, as it stretches, it becomes more and more conductive. 

“It’s really cool material,” he says.

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