Nanotech super suits at the Olympics

Jenna: There were a few articles floating around pre-olympics, such as an article in the Bangkok post, saying that Thai athlete’s Olympic uniforms would incorporate nanotechnology. The president of the ‘National Science and Technology Development Agency’ said that they would be working with ‘Grand Sport Group’ to manufacture 2,000 items of nanotechnology sportswear for the Thai athletes. The sportswear was to include ultrafine nanoparticles of zinc oxide, to cover gaps in the woven material used and provide benefits such as UV protection, anti-bacterial properties and also quick drying ability.

I wasn’t able to find out any more details about this, or the use of nanotechnology in any other Olympic team’s clothing, but surely there had to be more?? And what type of super performance nano-suits will the athletes be wearing next year. Maybe they will incorporate the following technology….

nano-electricity.jpg

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed a new fabric based on a phenomenon called the piezoelectric effect. This effect occurs when mechanical pressure is applied to certain materials that have crystalline structures in such a way that it produces a small electric charge. The researchers lined textile fibres with piezoelectric nano-wires arranged like the bristles on a bottlebrush. When a person walks around wearing the material, the wires rub together and generate electricity. It is estimated the material could eventually generate up to 80 milliwatts of power for each square meter of fabric. While this would not be enough energy to power the average music player or mobile phone, which use a few hundred milliwatts of power or more, it could power things such as sensors that could keep track of vital signs or other nano-sized devices. The material can also be applied to any surface that picks up vibration, such as engines, tires, or even large pieces of material such as sails or wind socks.

So maybe in London 2012 we wont just be amazed by the speed or strength of the athletes, but also performance stats like heart rates, respiration rates or even body temperatures, being measured by super nano-suits!

Originally published on Blog@NanoVic for Nanotechnology Victoria.

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