Researchers Craft Polar Bear Fur-Like Insulating Fiber, Thinner Than Down Jacket, Yet Just as Warm!

By: | January 4th, 2024

Image by Pixabay

Polar bears thrive in the frigid Arctic thanks to their specialized fur—a double act designed for survival. A thick, woolly undercoat traps air for warmth, while long, hollow guard hairs repel water and blend with snow for camouflage. This amazing combo keeps them cozy and hidden in the Arctic’s icy grip.

Scientists have innovated a revolutionary knittable fiber, inspired by polar bear fur

Scientists at Zhejiang University in China have created a revolutionary strong polymeric aerogel fiber with lamellar pores and encased it within a thin, stretchable rubber layer. The encapsulated aerogel fiber offers exceptional thermal insulation, durability, washability, as wella as dyeability, making it highly suitable for premium textiles.

Although used extensively in aerospace, traditional aerogel faces limitations in broader applications due to fragility and difficult processing. Current aerogel fibers lack strength, and stretchability for practical textiles, are not machine washable, and lose thermal insulation in wet conditions.

However, the researchers developed a resilient aerogel fiber with lamellar pores that capture infrared radiation, preserving heat and maintaining mechanical strength. This makes it well-suited for knitting and weaving applications.

Exceptional Durability and Thermal Performance: The Resilient Aerogel Fiber

Incredibly robust, this fiber maintains its insulating properties even after enduring 10,000 stretch cycles at a 100% strain. The researchers showcased its efficacy by knitting a thin sweater from the fiber, which, despite being considerably thinner than a traditional down jacket, exhibited thermal insulation capabilities equivalent to the jacket. 

This breakthrough opens new possibilities for multifunctional aerogel fibers and textiles, expanding the horizon of advanced textile technology.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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