2023 journal article
A kirigami-enabled electrochromic wearable variable-emittance device for energy-efficient adaptive personal thermoregulation
PNAS NEXUS, 2(6).
Abstract For centuries, people have put effort to improve the thermal performance of clothing to adapt to varying temperatures. However, most clothing we wear today only offers a single-mode insulation. The adoption of active thermal management devices, such as resistive heaters, Peltier coolers, and water recirculation, is limited by their excessive energy consumption and form factor for long-term, continuous, and personalized thermal comfort. In this paper, we developed a wearable variable-emittance (WeaVE) device, enabling the tunable radiative heat transfer coefficient to fill the missing gap between thermoregulation energy efficiency and controllability. WeaVE is an electrically driven, kirigami-enabled electrochromic thin-film device that can effectively tune the midinfrared thermal radiation heat loss of the human body. The kirigami design provides stretchability and conformal deformation under various modes and exhibits excellent mechanical stability after 1,000 cycles. The electronic control enables programmable personalized thermoregulation. With less than 5.58 mJ/cm2 energy input per switching, WeaVE provides 4.9°C expansion of the thermal comfort zone, which is equivalent to a continuous power input of 33.9 W/m2. This nonvolatile characteristic substantially decreases the required energy while maintaining the on-demand controllability, thereby providing vast opportunities for the next generation of smart personal thermal managing fabrics and wearable technologies.