Researchers at Shinshu University in Japan have developed a new method of integrating phase change materials (PCMs) within fabrics that could heat and cool the wearer depending on the environment. Occupations in many industries require workers to shift between vastly different temperatures as part of their work. Apart from making their work uncomfortable, such temperature shifts can also cause workers to fall ill. Clothing with PCM functionality could absorb heat in hot conditions and release it when it gets cooler and vice versa. But up to this point, these materials could not adjust to meet practical requirements.
Corresponding author of an article published in ACS Nano, Hideaki Morikawa and his team turned to a method called coaxial electrospinning to spin a nanofiber with a PCM encapsulated at its center, then coupled this PCM-encapsulated material with two other technologies: photoresponsive materials and an electrothermal conductive coating. The photoresponsive material absorbs heat from direct sunlight and the electrothermal coating converts excess heat into electricity. Combining three different technologies expands the range of environments where it potentially can be used. Photo: © Arisha Singh, dreamstime.com