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The potential applications of scientific processes are not always obvious at the time of their development…
Microfluidics, the precise control of fluids used in lab-on-a-chip applications, could wick away sweat to help keep you fresh and dry, according to engineers at the University of California, Davis.
Lab-on-a-chip devices rely on being able to move, mix or separate extremely small volumes of fluid to perform combinations of laboratory tasks in a very compact space, often no larger than a few square centimetres. Developing new devices requires a good understanding of how fluids will move through defined channels, and how to manipulate this flow to maintain the required reactions.
Inspired by this, graduate students Siyuan Xing and Jia Jiang in the Micro-Nano Innovations lab (cleverly abbreviated to MiNI) developed a new textile that incorporates hydrophilic threads into a highly-water repelling fabric. The threads attract and channel water, or sweat, allowing it to be moved from its source (in this case, perhaps your armpits) to another location on the outside of the garment. From there, it can simply run off or evaporate, meaning the fabric can remain dry, comfortable and breathable.