Apr 13, 2023
Sometimes a fake is better than the real thing.
Engineers researching polar bear fur have made a new fabric based on it. The fabric copies the insulating ability of the fur of polar bears. The bears' bright white coats keep the Arctic bears warm. They say their product can do the same for humans.
The engineers described their new artificial polar bear fabric in a paper. A Boston-based company called Soliyarn has already started making clothing that uses the fabric.
The secret is sunlight, the engineers say. The white fur of polar bears plays a vital role in channeling warmth from the sun toward their skin.
"But the fur is only half the equation," said lead author Trisha L Andrew. "The other half is the polar bears' black skin."
The dark skin absorbs the light carried by the fur. The fur stops the heat that comes with the light from leaving the bear's body, Andrew said.
The fake fur created by Andrew and her colleagues does the same thing. The white threads on the outside transfer light to a nylon lower layer. That layer is coated with a dark polymer called PEDOT. A jacket made of these materials is 30% lighter than one made of cotton. It's also better at keeping the wearer warm at temperatures that are 10 degrees Celsius colder in sunlight.
Sounds smarter than the average bear.
Photo by Hans-Jurgen Mager courtesy of Unsplash.
Polar Bear Facts
This mini-poster and fact sheet about polar bears delivers unique and fun information and includes an Arctic sea ice food chain diagram coloring activity.
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Still Waiting Read Aloud [Spanish]
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