New Nano-Fabric Allows You to Dunk Clothes in Water Without it Getting Wet

November 25 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology   Year: 2015   Rating: 3 Hot

I wrote a few days ago about GE Labs creating a surface so hydrophobic that water could literally bounce off it, but Swiss researchers at the University of Zurich have gone ahead and done it with polyester fabric. By coating polyester fibers with millions of tiny silicone filaments, the fabric is made so hydrophobic that you could literally put your jacket into a bucket of water, let it sit for two weeks, pull it out and it would be dry as a bone.

How did they accomplish this?

Researchers managed to create this amazing fabric through the use of silicone nanofilaments which are very highly chemically hydrophobic. “The spiky structure of the 40-nanometre- wide filaments strengthens that effect, to create a coating that prevents water droplets from soaking through the coating to the polyester fibres underneath.” Lead researcher Stefan Seeger went on to explain it was like a “like a fakir sitting on a bed of nails.” Took me a second to figure out exactly he meant by that but luckily I read a lot of Tintin when I was a kid and it finally paid off. Applying the coating is easy — a silicone gas is released which condenses onto the fibers of the fabric.

How could this be useful?

A fabric which can repel water like this could be used in a variety of different fields.  Since the gas could theoretically condense onto any fabric, applying a quick spray onto your clothes could turn your ugly Hawaiian shirt into a tropical raincoat. You could go swimming in your clothes at a party (or without if it’s that kind of party) and not worry about being soaking wet the rest of the night. Already super-slick swimsuits could improve performance by reducing drag even further.

Makes you wonder if people will ever experience getting soaked when they get caught in the rain (or piña coladas).

via New Scientist

Comment Thread (3 Responses)

  1. A couple things not clear from a quick read of the article you link to is just how long-lasting a silicon treatment of a garment (or any other length of material) is in duration or how o-dears* from non-liquid exposure are to be cleaned from the treated material.

    *Bonus points for identifying the cultural reference.

    Posted by: Will   November 26, 2008
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  2. Damn, I wanted nanotechnology to cure cancer and link my brain to computers, but all I got so far is this shitty water resistant T-Shirt.

    Posted by: johnfrink   November 30, 2008
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  3. While it may seem that there could be a better use of the technology, at least it’s a step towards something. I’m not exactly sure where we’re headed, but it’s something.

    Posted by: christinep   December 02, 2008
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