New fabric sucks out sweat and remains completely dry


May 20, 2013

The new fabric sucks sweat from one side to the other where it drains away, as demonstrated here using smurf sweat

The new fabric sucks sweat from one side to the other where it drains away, as demonstrated here using smurf sweat

Unsightly underarm sweat patches could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new fabric developed at the University of California, Davis. Instead of simply soaking up sweat like conventional fabrics, the new fabric is threaded with tiny channels that pull the sweat from one side to the other where it forms into droplets that drain away.

The fabric grew out of microfluidics research in the UC Davis Micro-Nano Innovations Laboratory of Tingrui Pan, professor of biomedical engineering, which generally focuses on microfluidic “lab on a chip” devices that use tiny channels to manipulate fluids for medical diagnostic tests and other applications.

By stitching hydrophilic (water-attracting) threads into a highly hydrophobic (water-repelling) fabric, graduate students Siyuan Xing and Jia Jiang developed a new textile microfluidic platform that sucks droplets of water along the threads from one side of the fabric to expel them on the other.

The water-repellent properties of the surrounding fabric help drive water down the hydrophilic threads to complement the capillary action that conducts the water through the fabric. Because of the sustained pressure gradient generated by the surface tension of the droplets, the water is drawn through even when the threads are saturated.

It is possible to control where the sweat is collected and where it drains away on the outer side by adjusting the patter of the hydrophilic fibers and how they are stitched on each side of the fabric.

The fabric not only remains completely dry but breathable as well, which should make the technology attractive to clothing manufacturers. Additionally, Xing says, “we intentionally did not use any fancy microfabrication techniques so it is compatible with the textile manufacturing process and very easy to scale up.”

The new fabric is detailed in a paper published in the journal Lab on a Chip and can be seen in action in the video below.

Source: UC Davis

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

First step of a Freman stillsuit..... recover sweat for recycling

Dave Wood

Sleeping bags? Socks? Under shorts? Band aids? Wound dressings? Mitts? Arctic wear? Hats?

Bruce Miller

sounds like it would be nasty to stand next to on a bus

science ninja

So all the sweat can now drip down out of your stinky pits? thats even worse....

@Bruce Miller I'm with you on this one, there are a million other better uses for this material than wicking sweat away from your pits. Oh, and pit stains are primarily from the aluminum in the antiperspirant dissolved in sweat. (or from urea in the sweat itself) Both of these things will leave a trail of stain wherever they go if they are absorbed at all by the material.

I would like to see this in "blood capture baindaids" for example, severe scrapes that are kept continuously dry form better scabs and leave less scars. the wound still clots in the inside of the wound, and doesn't leave a giant scab to be picked. (my kiddo loves picking scabs)


Recover beer from previous nights drinking, I like it !

Jay Finke

It would be great if it could somehow channel or disperse the fluid in a way that cools the skin - the reason the person is sweating.

Does it help one feel cooler? Also some synthetics seem to get rid of moisture but the various body salts stay behind and can create odors that would not occur with a cotton blend shirt. What is this fabric like after being worn on a long hot day? And the other issue may be expense. it seems like anytime some new synthetic comes along the clothing gets way too expensive. Jim Sadler

Yeah, but a pair of underpants will cost $700.

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