Engineers from the University of California, Irvine (USA) have developed a material on the basis of which can be used to make space blankets new generation able to control how much heat passes through them, says EurekAlert. An article in the journal Nature Communications, describing an innovative development indicates that the scientists “saw” the necessary technology from other sea creatures — cuttlefish, squid and octopuses are able to change the color of his skin, masquerading as relief in danger.
“Ultra-lightweight space blankets have long been used on Earth. They are often used by marathon runners, allowing the body runners after a long run to preserve the remaining heat. kept the remaining heat. However, the key disadvantage of such blankets is the static nature of the material from which they are made. It is not possible to adjust the level of heat transfer”, — says the co-author of the new developments of Alon Gorodetsky, assistant Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering California Institute Irvine (UCI).
“We created a new version of the material, a feature which is the ability to change their properties, allowing to adjust the delay or the release of heat,” adds the scientist.
The researchers had based the design of the skin of several different types of squid, octopus and cuttlefish, which use adaptive, dynamic skin for existence in the water. The unique ability of cephalopods to camouflage under rapidly changing color partly due to the skin cells, called chromatophores, which can change from minute points on the flat disks.
“We used a similar concept in their design, creating in the material a layer of tiny metallic “Islands” that border each other. Relaxed Islands merge together, and the material reflects and captures the heat. When the material is stretched, “Islands” away from each other, flowing into more heat,” explains graduate student in the Department of chemistry and biomolecular engineering at UCI Erica Leung.
The researchers consider the many opportunities to apply the new material. For example, the reflective panels in the buildings to create an insulating layer, adapted to different environmental conditions; for the manufacture of tents, which would be extremely good to ensure the comfort of the inhabitants outdoors; the material also can be used to efficiently control the temperature of valuable electronic components. Scientists believe that the clothes will be a particularly suitable material for the new, inspired by the biological characteristics of the material.
“Each person has their own room temperature. One can be comfortable at 18 degrees Celsius, the other feels good only at +25 degrees. Our invention will allow to develop clothing that will provide comfort for each person in the same room. In addition, it can lead to potential savings of 30-40 percent on energy consumption for heating and air conditioning systems”, — explained the researchers.
As for those runners, they can use these blankets equipped with special touch screens that allow you to customize your comfort temperature. By the way, the design and the idea apparently is interested in Under Armour Inc. company is a manufacturer of sports clothing, with which cooperate the developers of the new material.
Eric Leung also notes that the material was very light, durable, simple and at the same time cheap to manufacture.