Imagine garments that preserve most of our body heat – there will be no need of heating up our homes. In Northern India, this would be used in winters but in temperate countries in Europe or North America, it would mean huge savings on home heating costs. Researchers from Stanford University have come up with clothes that have a thin coating of silver nanowires, according to Phys.org. Such garments preserve almost 90 percent of the body’s heat radiation by not allowing it to escape through the pores of the cloth. In comparison, plain cotton garments allow 80 percent of body heat radiation to escape. The research was led by Professor Yi Cui and others at Stanford University. The findings have been published in a recent issue of Nano Letters. In order to keep ourselves warm in cold temperatures, home interiors need to be heated up. This involves heating up empty spaces and objects in homes. This amounts to 42 percent of global energy consumption every year. Any saving in this would be huge in terms of both economic as well as environmental costs. The researchers thought that instread of heating up the whole residential space and all objects inside it, why not just keep humans warm. They call this “personal thermal management”.
Nanowires to combat cell damage, ageing in humans Nanowires made of vanadia can reduce cell damage in the human body, researchers from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore have found. This breakthrough can help develop drugs that prevent ageing, cardiac disorders, and several neurological problems like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Vanadium oxide or vanadia is a form of vanadium, an element found close to titanium on the periodic table. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced during normal cellular metabolism. When the level of ROS is elevated, normal redox state of cells is disturbed, leading to damage of cellular components, including proteins, lipids, and DNA.
Their research showed that clothing dipped in a solution of metallic nanowires, such as silver nano-wires (AgNWs) can provide effective insulation and also generate heat if connected to an external power source. But won’t these silver coated garments be expensive, uncomfortable to wear and difficult to wash? No say the scientists. The nanowire structure is breathable because space between the wires is 300 nanometers whereas water molecules are just 0.2 nm, according to Phys.org. On the other hand, human body radiation has a wavelength of 9000 nm so it won’t be able to pass through the material. Only about 0.1 gram of silver nanowires will be needed to cover 1 square meter of cloth. The silver content would be less than that. So it won’t be expensive and it could be treated like any garment. The best property of this silver garment is that if plugged into a power source of as little as 0.9 volts, it can be heated to 38 degrees Celsius, one degree more than normal body temperature.