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New Nanotech Fabric Never Gets Wet

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-for-lining-lunchboxes dept.

Technology 231

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a simple coating for polyester that renders it unwettable — even after two months underwater it emerges dry to the touch. Water cannot attach to the new fabric thanks to nanostructured filaments and a structure that traps a constant air layer. One potential use is for low-drag swim wear."

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Welcome! (-1, Redundant)

FishAdmin (1288708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886129)

I, for one, welcome our new unwettable overlords!

Re:Welcome! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886137)

Sounds like my wife, Ba-ZING!

Re:Welcome! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886747)

not uncommon for a post-op tranny.

Re:Welcome! (4, Funny)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886751)

I, for one, welcome our new unwettable overlords!

It's going to make wet T-shirt competitions far less entertaining :(

Re:Welcome! (4, Insightful)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887239)

Too bad for Bill that Monica's blue dress didn't have that coating. Oh wait, does it work on THAT substance too?

Great news for slashdotters (3, Funny)

slashnot007 (576103) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887377)

No more wet beds! Also this will be great news for the British public restroom officials. After years of experimenting with Wax paper as toilet paper they can now go high tech. (Can anyone explain to me why on earth the british public restrooms use velum-like TP?) The downside is that now when you accidentally pee in your trowsers, instead of getting a wet spot it all ends up in your shoe.

Re:Welcome! (1)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887537)

It's going to make wet T-shirt competitions far less entertaining :(

Though I can see it as the new fabric of choice in the porno industry, replacing latex & pleather.

Is this a good idea? (5, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886131)

Water can't penetrate it - that means, rain stays outside... Good idea...

But it also means, all your sweat stays INSIDE... BAD idea...
I don't even want to know how soaked I'd feel after cycling for half an hour wearing a 'rain-coat' like that to keep me 'dry'!

Re:Is this a good idea? (5, Interesting)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886171)

Even worse, you can't wash it:

Unlike some water-resistant coatings, it remains more-or-less intact when the fabric is rubbed vigorously, although it didn't survive an everyday washing machine cycle.

Re:Is this a good idea? (5, Insightful)

FishAdmin (1288708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886243)

Even worse, you can't wash it:

Unlike some water-resistant coatings, it remains more-or-less intact when the fabric is rubbed vigorously, although it didn't survive an everyday washing machine cycle.

That's really not such a large deal; it repels liquids, and any solids could be sprayed off with a hose/faucet/whathaveyou. It couldn't really get dirty, so there would be no need to wash it beyond a surface rinse; the bigger threat is trapping your perspiration, like beh pointed out.

Re:Is this a good idea? (3, Interesting)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886387)

What about oil, or grease or sticky substances in general?

Maybe for normal clothing wont be good, but probably will have interesting applications in other fields.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887593)

What about oil, or grease or sticky substances in general?

The porn industry is dying to know.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Informative)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886389)

if its anything like other coatings, certain things like oils will get on it and you'll never get them out.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887703)

BO and other odors are (by definition) volatile and may or may not be able to condense on the material...

Re:Is this a good idea? (3, Insightful)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886251)

The worthwhile question your statement poses: You can't wash it, but can you actually get it dirty?

Re:Is this a good idea? (3, Informative)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886413)

...can you actually get it dirty?

It didn't say it was Babyback Rib grease proof, just waterproof. There are an awful lot of tasty stain-producing things out there that aren't water-based.

Have you ever eaten sardines in mustard sauce, or better yet, John West Kippers in Sunflower oil [cameronsbritishfoods.com] ? As I say, "If you ain't got sauce all up in your eyebrows, you ain't doing it right."

Re:Is this a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887281)

John West... the best.

Re:Is this a good idea? (0, Redundant)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886453)

If you can get it dirty, this may yet be the case of a cloth that is machine washable and comes out dry from the machine. Or better yet, washes out simply by brushing off the stain with the back of the hand.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887399)

RTFA.
It got destroyed in the washing machine.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887379)

Give it to Mike Rowe.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886259)

While some sort of one way fabric would be even better, and presumably awaits the next round of freaky nanotech, there is nothing stopping you from using macroscale features to deal with that problem. Strategically placed vent slits or similar should be able to let sweat out and allow a modicum of air circulation without letting rain in.

Cold weather gear would be trickier; but I suspect that the same basic mixed strategy approach would work.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886279)

I'd imagine that with a little cleverness and effort, it'd be possible to come up with a rain jacket design that had a decent amount of venting in places that were adequately protected from rain. I own a jacket that has zippers under the armpits that you can open to allow some cooling. You still probably wouldn't be very comfortable running a marathon in it, but for day-to-day wear, I'm sure it could be quite comfortable. Designing in more venting wouldn't be impossible.

Re:Is this a good idea? (2, Interesting)

Sun.Jedi (1280674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886285)

But it also means, all your sweat stays INSIDE... BAD idea...

It can't be as bad being completely painted gold [snopes.com] . :D

I won't dispute any medical issues from being submerged in your own sweat -- IANAD. They did seem similar to me, however. The article did not mention if the waterproofing was one-way or both.

Re:Is this a good idea? (3, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886525)

As millions of high school wrestlers will attest, wearing an impermeble garment can be done. Hell, I used to SLEEP in a loose PVC top to sweat off water before a match. The possible consequences include dehydration, heat stroke/exhaustion, and repelling your love ones with your stench.

Re:Is this a good idea? (2, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886383)

Liquid water and water vapor isn't the same thing.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1, Informative)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887671)

How the hell is this insightful?

Chemically, yes they are the exact same thing.

Physically, they're always present together in dynamic equilibrium. There is always a vapor pressure with liquid water, at least at the temps & pressures of clothing.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Informative)

theTrueMikeBrown (1109161) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886459)

I don't think that that would really be a problem - the sweat can still evaporate and leave as water vapor

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886461)

You just need to activate the built in drier and you'll be fine. Comes in handy when you fall off your hove^H^H^H^H bike and you need to dry off.

Re:Is this a good idea? (5, Funny)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886471)

Wouldn't it be nasty if the outside were hydrophobic and the inside hydrophylic - your sweat would be yanked into the material and violently ejected from the other side! You'd look like your own Vegas water fountain show as you ran along.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

Lostlander (1219708) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886561)

Or as your name suggests it could be used to line the inside of a desert suit a la dune. Collect the moisture and recycle it.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886959)

Or as your name suggests it could be used to line the inside of a desert suit a la dune. Collect the moisture and recycle it.

Forget the water recycling, Muad'Dave just invented a perpetual motion machine! Although the buttered cat may constitute prior art.

Re:Is this a good idea? (4, Informative)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886615)

I don't even want to know how soaked I'd feel after cycling for half an hour wearing a 'rain-coat' like that to keep me 'dry'!

Liquid water can't adhere to the surface of the fibers. Water vapor should be able to penetrate the fabric just fine--which is exactly the way you want it if you plan to avoid heat exhaustion while biking.

Re:Is this a good idea? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886797)

http://mrfriendly.freehostia.com/

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

yanyan (302849) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886805)

I imagine this would make good sweatsuit material. Not that the current ones aren't already effective...

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886913)

It is still great for water-colling electronics. There are probably several other applications, it is just a matter of thinking about them.

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

msoori (614781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887383)

So, how do I wash this shirt?

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887437)

I'd feel after cycling for half an hour

What, you mean in these two decades since I last rode a bike there hasn't been any progress here? So exactly what have you guys been doing while we were making sure Moore's law didn't fail?

Re:Is this a good idea? (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887617)

I don't even want to know how soaked I'd feel after cycling for half an hour wearing a 'rain-coat' like that to keep me 'dry'!

That's why good cycling rain jackets have vents [showerspass.com] .

funny but. (5, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886197)

I was wondering if it could be used for Ships to lower their drag, or to line the inside of pipes.
Not the fabric mind you but the coating.

Re:funny but. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886289)

My thoughts exactly. All high-efficiency watercraft seem to rely on putting a layer of air between the craft and the water, so this should be a good match.

Re:funny but. (4, Insightful)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886301)

I wouldn't want that anywhere near my water supply, 10 years later if that stuff flakes off, that could do some nasty stuff to your digestive system.

Re:funny but. (1)

QuantumPete (1247776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886487)

You don't filter your water already??? You obviously don't live in London ;) QuantumPete

Re:funny but. (1)

MaxwellEdison (1368785) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886637)

I use the latest in nanofilters. Its holes are so small even water can't get through!

Re:funny but. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886605)

I was thinking more of oil and or other industrial uses.

Re:funny but. (1)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887661)

I was wondering if it could be used for Ships to lower their drag...

Because steel absorbs so much water?

Don't stand so close to me (1)

bossanovalithium (1396323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886201)

Raincoat good, sweatstink bad.

Unwettables (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886239)

I would make drinking glasses out of unwettable surfaces, as it would ensure that you waste none of your beverage.

Re:Unwettables (1)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886309)

Of course, if the bartender scrubs the glass you get a drink full of silicon nano-filaments. Decisions, decisions...

Re:Unwettables (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886325)

You will never have to wash your glasswear again.

Re:Unwettables (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886577)

You will never have to wash your glasswear again.

Right. Because we wouldn't have to worry about lipstick, lip balm or other substances sticking to the outside of the glass.

A place which has lipstick on the glass at your table just screams hygiene.~*

*Testing out the new sarcasm tag

Re:Unwettables (2, Funny)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887411)

Because we all need more polymethylsilsesquioxane nanofilaments in our diet.

Unwettable = unwashable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886261)

Also: Classic movie time! Watch "The man in the white suit" [imdb.com] ...

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886267)

immersion cooling?

Beware! (1)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886315)

In reference to this article I would like to direct readers to the movie "The man in the white suit" [wikipedia.org] to learn more about the dangers of creating nanotech clothing.

Re:Beware! (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887221)

Missed it by that much... 4-ish minutes, actually.

Sex Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886317)

Put this on a condom?

Re:Sex Applications (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886495)

And have the ejaculatory fluids do what, exactly? Swish around, just waiting to drip out?

Re:Sex Applications (1)

Mushdot (943219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887097)

You could coat ping pong balls in it and fire Thai ladies across the room.

would make good table cloth (4, Interesting)

nobodylocalhost (1343981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886321)

i wonder if they tested this in oil. if it is both water resistant and oil resistant, it would make a very good material for table cloths, chair cover, couch cover, pillow cover, etc.

More use than clothing. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886337)

This stuff would be great under roofing tiles/shingles. This has FAR more uses than clothing.

Re:More use than clothing. (1)

RayMarron (657336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886833)

Where's my mod points when I need them? Parent AC has an interesting idea there!!

Re:More use than clothing. (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887511)

I bet it's extremely flammable.

It traps a layer of air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886341)

So is it air-tight as well?

unless you rub it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886355)

and... the coating comes off when you rub it gently... You could coat anything in anything hydrophobic and get the same effect. Something permanent or durable would be a nice announcement.

Pool Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886379)

Even Worse.... try jumping into a pool with that... u'll end up with your face on the ground

Re:Pool Time (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887087)

I don't think it renders water massless.

Practical applications (5, Interesting)

Leafheart (1120885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886399)

There are many important places where we can use it, besides gain an edge on competitive sports (yeah, I know, money talks).

  • If the coating can be used on anything else, I say we have a pretty serious application on anything that deals with salty water.
  • Still on the topic of swimming, how good it is the thermal isolation on this things? Can it be made to better diving suits?
  • Ship sails that do not get wet.
  • Protective clothes and other fabric for people on icy\snowy places. Specially mountaineers and the guys down at Antarctica.
  • Is it only water or any liquid? I mean, can I spray alcohol and it won't stick? What about mud? Will it only be the earth particles on the cloth and the liquid will pour off?

Re:Practical applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886625)

How about umbrellas that don't leak?

Re:Practical applications (1)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886707)

Don't forget Fremen water measuring devices in windtrap reservoirs.

Re:Practical applications (1)

squoozer (730327) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887533)

I've not RTFA but my guess is that this will only work water. It's not like PTFE (Teflon) which is almost inert it's a nano-material that traps a layer of air. The water probably can't wet the fabric due to surface tension. Most liquids have very low surface tensions so would be able to wet the fabric. Water is rather unique in having a high surface tension due to extensive hydrogen bonding.

"New Nanotech Fabric Never Gets Wet" (1)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886511)

Yeah, and neither does your girlfriend. Ooh. On a more serious note, wouldn't this be more used by divers? Everyone keeps mentioning bikers, but I'm not sure that is a good idea.

Swimwear? Seriously? (4, Interesting)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886541)

Talk about setting the bar low. What about skins for submersible craft. Stealth sub tech? I find it odd that, on /. of all places, the first thought to implement badass new technology is on sports...

Re:Swimwear? Seriously? (1)

kat_skan (5219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886955)

Indeed. This technology has vastly more important applications for making really cool videos and putting them on YouTube [youtube.com] .

Re:Swimwear? Seriously? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887115)

You'd rather continue the stereotype of war-mongering Americans?

My first thought was applying the coating to ropes, since I enjoy sailing. If the ropes won't get wet, they won't rot as easily, and might be easier to handle.

Besides, as far as submarines are concerned, stealth comes from being quiet. Don't see how this would do much to help absorb noise. It might help with speed, but probably not a whole lot. Low drag is a lot more beneficial when you've only got one human-power moving you, compared to a nuclear reactor and who-knows-how-much-shaft-horsepower.

I know right? (2, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887441)

Hell the first thing I thought of wasn't sports, but safety. Is this something you can make work clothes out of so that if you work on a boat or pier, if you fall in, can it be made so your clothes don't absorb water and make it harder for you to swim to safety. If the water doesn't get absorbed, you could put a layer of insulation underneath it to help stay warm in cold water to help defend you from hypothermia.

But obviously the money is in selling a swimmer a $10,000 swimsuit so they can shave .02 seconds off their swim time in the hopes of beating Michael Phelps in the next olympics.

Re:Swimwear? Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887515)

I find the sportsmen in swimsuites and the race for who can buy the best suits instead of 'best swimmer of the day wins' rather unsportive. I suggest they must swim in the water to be named champion. You either swim in the nude or you're a cheater. Let's call the new sport Water Swimming Championships and laugh at the silly dry swimmers who are afraid of getting wet in the water.

Its a trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886549)

Its a tarp.

Re:Its a trap (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886669)

Stay in the tarp! This is bath country!

What, no snarky comment about Dune? (5, Funny)

marquis111 (94760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886587)

Reminds me of what the Fremen used to coat their underwater water stores.

I wonder what new and strange water behavior could be observed in a container lined in this. Would there be a meniscus -- either convex or concave -- when water was put into it? Or would the water huddle nervously in the middle, unsure of what do with itself?

Re:What, no snarky comment about Dune? (1)

iksbob (947407) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887289)

A similar (maybe the same?) material has been in existence long enough for someone to make a toy out of it, exploiting just the behavior you're curious about. link [thinkgeek.com] .

That sounds like a challenge to me! (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886613)

I think men around the world are already lining up for the chance to pee on this stuff....

On a somewhat serious note, though, this stuff sounds like the perfect lining for urinals!

Good use! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886675)

This stuff would be great for socks, and shoes for that matter. Oh and on a side note how about "prank diapers" ?

a million and 1 uses (1)

ZWarrior (194861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25886811)

What about a coating on windows to keep them clear? A type of wax coating on vehicles? Spiffy way to stop spilled wine from setting?

Re:a million and 1 uses (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887369)

Pilkington in the UK have already developed a self cleaning glass, I don't know any of the tech details behind it though. I'ts been around a couple of years now.

When it's underwater does it get wet? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886895)

Does the water get it instead?
Nobody knows.
Particle Man.

Old news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25886969)

Duck feathers do that too :)

Wish we could change the order... (2, Funny)

thered2001 (1257950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887007)

...of photo-icons which appear on these stories! Poor Einstein looks like he's going to get seriously injured by a falling motherboard. As far as this cloth goes, I don't see that it is necessarily stated that the it prevents water from permeating, just that the cloth itself doesn't get wet.

Soap? (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887113)

How about soapy water?

sounds like the ultimate leisure suit (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887119)

a pocket protector and a parrot tie, and you're all set for an interview

It's a drag, man (1)

SleptThroughClass (1127287) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887141)

One potential use is for low-drag swim wear.

Yeah, it's a real drag having to get wet when going for a swim.

Re:It's a drag, man (1)

gruvmeister (1259380) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887567)

The purpose of low-drag swimwear is not to stay dry, but to reduce fiction, and therefore resistance, caused by moving through the water. Lower drag = higher speed for the same energy expenditure. And yes, this is probably the most useless possible application for this technology, but you've got to sell something to the people providing the funding. Much better ideas have been mentioned in this discussion already - sails, ship/sub coatings, extreme cold weather wear and raingear. Also, how about protective tarps, a replacement for tarpaper on roofs, umbrellas... the list goes on!

old news. but cool! (4, Informative)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887269)

Superhydrophobic surfaces and textile coverings have been around for a little while.
The news here is the one-step solvent-free process,
which will make industrialization a lot cheaper.

Youtube has lots on "superhydrophobic" and "nanotech fabric/textile"

Here's a cool demo: they sink a white sofa into a read bath, and pull it out again spotless:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ytrQs1B5QY [youtube.com]

This would be great for swimwear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887389)

Probably decreases friction, and when you get out your swimwear is dry and you can hop right in the car or whatever.

Re:This would be great for swimwear (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887721)

Provided you wear all-over swimwear.

ex (1)

Spaham (634471) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887423)

sounds like my ex wife

I guess this means... (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887443)

...Your jacket is now dry!

And the new name of said material... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25887479)

Scotch Guard!

Wow! (1)

kpainter (901021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887557)

I think I want a leisure suit made out of this crap!

What? (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887575)

Low drag underwear?

Wet? (1)

damonlab (931917) | more than 5 years ago | (#25887675)

Obligatory Twilight Zone reference - "What's wet?"
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