Scientists Develop Plastic Fabric That Keeps You Cool on Warm Summer Days

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According to a new study published in Science magazine, scientists have developed a fabric material, partially made of plastic, that is designed to keep you cool on warmer days.

The Study

The lead author in the study, Yi Cui, who researches materials science and engineering at Stanford University, found a way to use the plastic fabric nanoPE textile, which was inspired by plastic wrap, to keep people cool in the summer or on warmer days in general.


The plastic material nanoPE, is actually called nanoporous polyethylene. Polyethylene is a common plastic that allows infrared radiation (which the body naturally gives off) to pass through it. NanoPE is actually easier to find than you think, since it is commercially accessible and widely used in lithium-ion batteries as a separator.

Your skin gives off an invisible infrared radiation. You’re able to keep warm under your blankets because your body’s radiation is getting trapped under it. The same idea applies to clothing on the warmer days of the year. Sweat cools the body down by evaporating into the surrounding air, and wearing heavy clothing prevents the evaporation.

What This Means

NanoPE will allow the infrared radiation to pass through, keeping your skin cool and providing your own personal air conditioning. The material is as breathable as cotton but doesn’t trap any of the heat that is naturally given off by the body.

The plastic clothing material could also be used to cut down on air conditioning costs in the summer and will result in a lot of saved energy.

“The main reason we use all of this energy cooling buildings is to keep the human bodies inside comfortable,” he said. “We thought, why not cool the bodies instead?” said Cui in a Washington Post article.