Nanotechnology used to combat freezing feet

Attention Canadians. If you just trudged in from a blizzard, you may want to take a look at ToastyFeet. The company sells shoe insoles that can keep feet warm despite snow and ice. You can stand on a block of dry ice, chilling at minus 106 Fahrenheit, and your feet will still be 72 degrees.

The technology for the insoles comes from Aspen Aerogels. Aerogels essentially are blankets of air: five percent of a sheet of insulating aerogel material might be fiber but the rest will be air. Because air insulates better than most materials, a thin layer of aerogel can protect from heat or cold better than other materials several inches think.

Oil companies use it to wrap undersea pipes and prevent super hot petroleum drilled from the ground from suddenly getting cold while traveling along the bottom of the sea.

Aerogels have been around for decades, but it has been only recently that companies like Aspen have come up with ways to produce the stuff en masse economically.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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