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— Science

Treated cotton cleans itself when exposed to sunlight

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the benefits of drying our laundry outside on the clothesline. We save money and energy by not running the dryer, the sunlight kills germs, and we don’t run the risk of generating harmful dryer emissions. In the future, however, we might also end up washing our clothes by hanging them outside – scientists in China have successfully used sunlight to remove orange dye stains from cotton fabric, that was treated with a special coating. Read More
— Outdoors

Future Fabrics: High-tech materials attempt to beat mother nature at her own game

A new dawn is breaking in the evolution of outdoor apparel technology. Many materials that dominate today's outdoor clothes - wool and down, for instance - have been plucked straight from nature for hundreds of years. While textile manufacturers and clothing companies have tried to improve upon natural designs, they've generally failed to come up with anything that unequivocally surpasses Mother Nature. Just beyond the action videos and gear shops though, an improved generation of materials with the potential to displace stale staples is slowly moving from test labs to retail shelves. If these materials can brave the real world and live up to the hype, outdoor apparel - and outdoor sports - will look very different in the future. Read More
— Good Thinking

Fitted Fashion using 3D scanners to make custom-fit jeans

By now, you may be familiar with body-scanning systems that take peoples’ measurements, so those people know what size of clothes to shop for. Such systems include the recently-launched Bodymetrics, along with the more-established Intellifit. Well, startup company Fitted Fashion is taking the concept a step farther. Not only would each client get scanned to obtain their precise measurements, but the company would then make each client one or more pairs of custom-fit jeans, and mail those to their home. Read More
— Good Thinking

Swiss team engineers first weavable, washable, wearable pure gold-coated fiber

What do you buy for the person who has everything? An obvious choice is something that's never existed before. Enter the determined textile specialists at Swiss research institute EMPA who spent the last ten years developing a method to affix pure gold onto silk. Only slightly less scarce than hen's teeth and spider silk cloth, the thread can be woven into a beautiful and surprisingly durable, even washable 24 carat fabric that Goldfinger himself would be proud to wear. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

Experimental antenna-clothing outperforms regular antennas

In the recent past, we’ve seen outfits that incorporate bio-sensors and batteries, and even a bikini with integrated solar cells. One of the latest innovations in smart fabrics, however, allows a person’s clothing to act as multiple antennas. Developed at Ohio State University (OSU), the system could prove particularly useful to soldiers, who don’t want to be encumbered by a protruding whip antenna. Read More
— Electronics

Conductive nanocoatings for textiles could lead to thin, flexible electronics

Not long ago, we reported on a prototype thin, flexible smartphone known as the Paperphone. While it isn’t actually made out of paper, the success of a research project at North Carolina State University indicates that phones in the future could be. Scientists there have been able to deposit conductive nanocoatings onto textiles, meaning that items such as pieces of paper or clothing could ultimately be used as electronic devices. Read More
— Good Thinking

Sound-absorbing curtains let the light shine through

Heavy curtains made from thick material such as velvet are often needed to keep noise out of indoor environments, but Swiss researchers have come up with another option. The Empa researchers, in collaboration with textile designer Annette Douglas and silk weavers Weisbrod-Zurrer AG, have developed lightweight, translucent curtains which are five times more effective at absorbing sound than their conventional counterparts. Read More
— Science

Spider-silk-producing silkworms to be commercially developed

Although cobwebs may seem very fragile when we see people like Indiana Jones crashing through them, the fact is that spider silk is an incredibly strong and flexible material. It has a tensile strength similar to that of high-grade steel while only being one-fifth as dense, it can stretch up to 1.4 times its relaxed length without breaking, and it can maintain those properties down to a temperature of -40C (-40F). Given that spiders don't secrete huge quantities of the stuff on a daily basis, however, what's a biotech firm to do if it wishes to harvest the fibers for use in human technology? In the case of Sigma Life Science, it's getting genetically-modified silkworms to spin spider silk. Read More
— Science

Secrets of spider silk unraveled

When you explore haunted houses or search for sacred artifacts in ancient temples, the cobwebs that you brush out of your way may seem fairly flimsy and inconsequential. For their size, however, spider silk fibers are incredibly strong – enough so that scientists have long been trying to figure out what their secret is, so it can be applied to man-made materials. In a recently-published paper, German scientists claim to have gotten closer to the answer. Read More
— Environment

Compostable sneakers make a dirty fashion statement

People may joke about their dirty old sneakers turning into science projects or mini ecosystems, but once OAT Shoes' compostable sneakers become commercially available within the next several weeks ... let's just say, those same people may no longer be joking when they make those kind of statements. Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground – the first batch will even come with seeds in their tongues, so that wildflowers will sprout up in commemoration of users' planted, expired kicks. Read More