Superhydrophilic Wool Fabric. Photo by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.
Wool has long been considered a kind of miracle fabric—soft, light, and warm even when it gets wet. Wool is also a renewable textile, which is something that petroleum-derived synthetics can’t touch. Given its superior qualities, it should come as no surprise that scientists have been tinkering with wool in order to study its properties—and even make enhancements. Researchers in China have developed a treatment in which an ultra-thin coating of silica may be deposited on wool fiber, thus increasing wool’s water absorbency—a modification that could make wool clothing feel less clammy when wet. According to the scientists, the coating could also help prevent shrinkage and wrinkles in wool garments.