Nature-inspired moisture management fabric for unidirectional liquid transport and surface repellence and resistance

Chao Zou, Lihong Lao, Qing Chen, Jintu Fan, Dahua Shou

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Humans sweat to cool down and dissipate heat in indoor and outdoor environments. The evaporation of liquid sweat absorbs body heat and reduces skin temperature. However, when the wearer sweats a lot or is fully wet by external liquids such as rain, even the best moisture management fabrics can be soaked and saturated, becoming unbreathable, heavy, and clingy, and imposing significant reduction in wearer's comfort and performance. Herein, inspired by liquid collection and release processes on the desert beetle's skin, we develop an innovative moisture management fabric, transferring excessive sweat from the skin side to the outer surface of the fabric and dissipating it in terms of droplets, while blocking and repelling the external liquids. The completely unidirectional liquid transport is achieved in the developed nature-inspired fabric, which is treated with global hydrophobicity and discrete localized wettability gradient by a sustainable plasma treatment method. Moreover, the proposed fabric shows improved thermal comfort with high breathability, reduced clinginess, and dry skin surface. Specifically, a highly directional water transport capability of 1647.9% is obtained using a Moisture Management Tester, while the water resistance from the external side is equivalent to a water column of 15 mm height. The water flow rate from the inner skin side to the environment is equal to 91.44 g/min∙m2, which is much higher than that of the high sweating rate of an adult (i.e., 15 g/min∙m2). Regulation of liquid movement in the proposed fabric will attract wide potential applications, including sportswear, worker uniform, casualwear, protective clothing, firefighter apparel, and military clothing. Maintaining moisture and thermal comfort while adapting to the expanded ambient temperature range of the air-conditioning system will also be desirable in building energy conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111203
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Moisture management fabric
  • Nature-inspired design
  • Surface repellence and resistance
  • Thermal comfort
  • Unidirectional liquid transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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