Two students from UC Davis – Siyuan Xing and Jia Jiang – have developed a new artificial material that funnels sweat through clothing, instead of just absorbing it like most other wicking fabrics on the market today.
The fabric is made up of two different kinds of thread, one highly hydrophilic (water-attracting), the other hydrophobic (water-repellent). When threaded together so that the hydrophilic material is surrounded by hydrophobic material, it creates a capillarization effect. This means the water is absorbed from the body and pushed down the water-attracting thread until it is expelled on the other side.
It’s also possible to control where the sweat is directed based on how the two different materials are arranged when the clothing is stitched together. Thanks to the capillarization effect, it also means the shirt continues to expel sweat even when it’s soaked through.
The pair also avoided micro-fabrication techniques, meaning the method used to make it is simple and scaleable, which could keep the cost of this type of clothing low, should it reach the general public.