Chinese researchers have developed a lightweight, durable, and ultra-warm fiber that imitates the structure of polar bear fur.
According to a study published in the Science Journal, polar bears have fur with a porous core encapsulated in a dense shell.
This dense shell structure keeps the polar bear warm and dry at even minus 40 degrees, but at the same time, is very lightweight.
“The shell is about 20 micrometers, which is nearly one-fourth of the bear’s hair diameter,” Xinhua quoted Bai Hao, a Professor at Zhejiang University’s College of Chemical Engineering, as saying.
By mimicking the core-shell structure, scientists encapsulated the aerogel fiber with a stretchable layer, providing possibilities for developing multifunctional aerogel fibers and textiles.
Compared with traditional aerogel fibers, the strength and flexibility of the new fiber are greatly enhanced, allowing for weaving or knitting into a wearable fabric.
“Tests show that a sweater knitted with the fiber was roughly one-third to one-fifth as thick as a down jacket, with similar performance,” Bai Hao said.