Water-Repellent Fabric Drains Away Sweat

University of California, Davis graduate students Siyuan Xing and Jia Jiang developed a new textile microfluidic platform using hydrophilic (water-attracting) threads stitched into a highly water-repellent fabric. They created patterns of threads that suck droplets of water from one side of the fabric, propel them along the threads, and expel them from the other side. "We intentionally did not use any fancy microfabrication techniques so it is compatible with the textile manufacturing process and very easy to scale up," said Xing. Unlike conventional fabrics, the water-pumping effect keeps working even when the water-conducting fibers are completely saturated, because of the sustaining pressure gradient generated by the surface tension of droplets. The technology would be ideal for clothing manufacturers interested in fabrics that remove sweat and let the skin breathe.