Stretchable Nanowires That Will Change the Way We Use Heat Packs

The heat-emitting mesh in action. (Image: Institute for Basic Science)
The heat-emitting mesh in action. (Image: Institute for Basic Science)

Scientists have come up with a new way to ease your sore muscles. There will be no more getting out the hot water bottle, or reheating a heat pack every time it cools off.

Researchers from Korea and the U.S. have developed a stretchable silver nanowire mesh that will heat any joint.

It is thin enough to fit under your cloths, and runs on batteries that will provide a constant heat. This means no more staying home until you’re feeling better, now you will be able to go out and still have that therapeutic care you need.

silver nanowire mesh Left: mesh in a relaxed state  Right: Mesh stretched over a curve to 100%. Image:  Institute for Basic Science

L: Silver nanowire mesh in a relaxed state. R: Silver nanowire mesh stretched over a curve to 100%. (Image: Institute for Basic Science)

The Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in Seoul said in a statement: “Other teams have come up with similar devices before, although no one was able to create something that didn’t rely on exotic materials or a complex fabrication process, factors which both carry hefty price tags.  Unlike their predecessors, the team at IBS stayed away from things like carbon nanotubes and gold, and looked at a more utilitarian option for their build material: thin slivers of silver nanowires.”

The team made the silver nanowires into an interlocking coil pattern (mesh structure) that ensures it will remain tight while the user is wearing it. The mesh is then placed in-between two layers of a transparent thermoplastic elastomer that will act as insulation.

The heat-emitting mesh in action  Image: Institute for Basic Science

The heat-emitting mesh in action. (Image: Institute for Basic Science)

According to Gizmag, both the wires and the elastomer are able to expand and contract, conforming to the contours of joints such as knees and wrists. Cuffs made from the mesh remain in place and continue to emit heat, even when those joints are moving.

In material flexibility tests, while placed on knee and wrist joints, the mesh heated while deformed and under stress on knee and wrist joints.  It is lightweight, breathable, and generates heat over the entire surface area of the material, wrote IBS.

This could be used not just for thermotherapy; this could be used as a heating element in ski jackets or a seat warmer in a car—the applications are endless, IBS added.

I can see their point; there would be 1001 uses for something like this.

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