London-based adventure-wear maker Vollebak is known for technical innovation. Its latest accomplishment: creating a jacket out of the so-called “miracle material” graphene. This thin, strong, and versatile form of graphite can conduct heat and electricity–properties that could revolutionize everything from aerospace to medicine. “Graphene remains extremely difficult to work with, incredibly expensive to produce, and very hard to make in large quantities,” Vollebak cofounder Steve Tidball says. “Even two years ago this jacket would have been impossible to make.”
Full Mineral Jacket
Vollebak worked with a team of outside scientists to turn raw graphite into stacks of graphene that were blended with polyurethane to create a membrane. That was then bonded to nylon to form the jacket’s two-sided material. The company laser-cut the reversible panels and glued them together to use as much of the costly fabric as possible.
Thanks to its hexagonal molecular structure, graphene can conduct heat in unusual ways. Vollebak says the jacket will pull heat from your body to equalize your temperature and work like a radiator, storing warmth from other sources. The material halts bacteria buildup and disperses humidity.
A Wearable Charging Station
The jacket, which Vollebak considers a prototype, plays down graphene’s natural ability to conduct electricity, but Vollebak hopes tinkerers will find ways to rework it to, for example, charge a phone simply by placing it in the pocket. The company wants to someday release a souped-up version of the jacket.