Imagine sportswear that not only stays dry through the most sweat-inducing workouts, but also turns perspiration into a design element. Named after the driest desert in the world, Atacama uses microfluidic technology to create textiles that can do just that. The recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation, Atacama is also exploring how its technology can be applied in a diverse range of industries, including apparel, auto manufacturing, and healthcare.
The medical industry started using microfluidics in the 1980s for “lab-on-a-chip” devices that allow researchers to use very small samples of blood and other fluids. By figuring out how to integrate microfluidics into textiles, Atacama can create activewear that feels more comfortable because almost all of the fabric remains dry. While most moisture-wicking fabrics currently on the market draw sweat to the surface of clothing so it evaporates more quickly, microfluidics directs moisture into tiny three-dimensional channels and then controls the direction of the fluid so it collects or drips off textiles exactly where manufacturers wants it to. Read More