Discovered in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, graphene is still considered something that exists only in research laboratories. So you might be surprised that almost everyone now has a chance to literally wear it… for €595. London-based apparel start-up Vollebak has launched the production of an innovative jacket, which the company calls part jacket, part science experiment. While one side of the jacket is made from high-strength high-stretch nylon, the other side is coated entirely in graphene.
Steve Tidball, Vollebak co-founder: ‘The original discovery of graphene came from an open-ended research project whose outcomes were impossible to predict, so we’re continuing in that vein. Knowing that the only thing that will ultimately limit what can be done with graphene is our collective imagination, the next logical step for us is getting graphene out into the hands of early adopters to see what happens.’
To put the material and jacket together, Vollebak worked with its production partners in Italy and Portugal. They turned raw graphite into graphene nanoplatelets and then blended them with polyurethane and nylon. According to Vollebak, this new material is instantly stronger and can store and conduct heat, repel bacteria, conduct power, let sweat evaporate, and keep wind and rain out, but without adding a single gram of weight.
The Graphene Jacket interacts with your body and the world around it in a series of different ways, depending on which way round you wear it and what you do in it. As physicists at the Max Planck Institute discovered, graphene challenges the fundamental laws of heat conduction, which means your jacket will not only conduct the heat from your body around itself to equalize your skin temperature and increase it, but the jacket can also theoretically store an unlimited amount of heat, which means it can work like a radiator.
Steve Tidball: ‘When clothing can start conducting heat and electricity all sorts of cool things can start happening. It means that over the next decade your clothing can start to become a platform for other innovations. And that’s really what we’re interested in. Heating is not the end game. Our view is that wearable technology will become increasingly invisible over the next 10 to 20 years. Instead of wearing it over your eyes or on your wrist, it will be embedded as clothing and tech simply merge. We think graphene’s ability to conduct heat and power and withstand insane forces, while adding zero mass, will make it central to the story.’
Unfortunately, the first edition of the Graphene Jacket has sold out, but you can sign up on the Vollebak’s website to get advance access to the next release.