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Nanodiamonds research for smart cooling fabrics

Swatches | July 1, 2024 | By:

A sample of pink cotton fabric that has been treated with nanodiamonds (left) next to untreated cotton (right). Nanodiamonds are an inexpensive carbon material that conducts heat and could be used to create smart performance fabrics. Image: RMIT University/Cherry Cai

Researchers at RMIT University may have found something precious when it comes to creating lightweight, comfortable smart cooling textiles—in the form of nanodiamonds, an inexpensive carbon material that conducts heat quickly.

The scientists coated one side of the fabric with nanodiamonds and measured thermal conductivity, resistance and radiant heat transfer. They applied the nanodiamonds via electrospinning, with a polyurethane (PU) solution. PU was chosen for its ease of use, elasticity and abrasion-resistant properties. In a final product, the coated side would be closest to the body, to quickly move the heat away from the wearer and to slow heat coming in.

Applications include sportswear textiles or protective clothing such as layers to keep firefighters cool. Nanodiamonds are safe for the human body and thus have potential in biomedicine. The coating also increased the UV protection of the cotton.

“There’s also potential to explore how nanodiamonds can be used to protect buildings from overheating,” says Shadi Houshyar, Ph.D., project lead and senior lecturer.

The study was published in Polymers for Advanced Technologies; future work will look at washability.

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