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Polar bears have inspired scientists. The result is a fabric that keeps you warm as well as their fur

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Researchers have wondered for years what makes bears withstand the cold so well. It turns out that the key is not only his fur, but also his skin. Based on reports, American scientists have created a synthetic fabric with similar properties.

Engineers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA) have developed a synthetic fabric modeled on polar bear fur. They shared their analyzes of their work in the journal “ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces”

Optical fiber and insulator

Polar bears live in some of the harshest conditions on earth, enduring arctic temperatures exceeding -40 degrees Celsius. Since the 1940s, scientists have been asking themselves – how does a polar bear’s fur keep you warm? Initially, it was thought that the way to do this was to isolate yourself from the weather. Subsequent research results have shown that this theory is only partly correct.

One of the major discoveries of recent decades is that many polar animals actively use sunlight to maintain their temperature, and the fur of the polar bear is a famous example of this. Part of the secret of the bear coat is the white color, thanks to which the fur effectively transmits solar radiation towards the animal’s skin.

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– Fur is only half the equation. The other half is black polar bear skin, said Trisha L. Andrew, a professor of chemistry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who led the team working on synthetic fur.

As explained by prof. Andrew, polar bear fur is like a natural optical fiber that conducts sunlight to the bear’s skin – which absorbs that light, warming the bear. On the other hand, fur is also an exceptionally good insulator that prevents heat loss from the body to the outside.

polar bearShutterstock

Lighter than cotton

Prof. Andrew and her team designed a two-layer fabric with the top layer consisting of threads that, like polar bear fur, conduct light to the bottom layer. This one is made of nylon and covered with a dark material called PEDOT.

The PEDOT material, similarly to the skin of a polar bear, effectively warms up – so efficiently that a jacket made of such material is 30% warmer. lighter than the same cotton jacket, while ensuring thermal comfort at temperatures 10 degrees C lower than a cotton jacket. The condition, however, is good ambient lighting.

The invention of the team of prof. Andrew as a product is already available on the market.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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