Electric heating pads are very popular for relieving minor aches and pains. They’re fairly cheap and are easy to use, but the heat distribution is uneven and the pads themselves tend to be lumpy or downright rigid. Wearing them while walking around is impractical, as they don’t wrap well around joints and tend to be too thick and bulky.
Now researchers at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have developed a special fabric that provides even, well regulated heat in a very flexible and conformable form factor.
They modified Kevlar, the stuff that most bulletproof vests are made of, with copper-nickel nanowires placed within its layers. A resin with reduced graphene oxide fills in the space between the nanowires so when they warm up, the heat is distributed evenly. Using only 1.5 volts of electricity, the material quickly heats up to 158 degrees Fahrenheit evenly along its surface.
One additional benefit of the new material is that it works as an excellent insulator, reflecting heat that the body emits back toward itself. Being based on Kevlar, it’s certainly strong, washable, and breathable. Having these qualities, the researchers believe that they have the perfect material for heated body armor that police working in cold climates can wear during the winter.