Elements of Innovation: Graphene

We are a function-first brand, striving to engineer the world’s best outerwear. In doing so, we use various materials and fabrics that are proven to enhance performance. One of these is graphene.

Graphene is a revolutionary material, first isolated in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who took a block of graphite and dissected it layer by layer until only one remained. It is believed that graphene has the ability to transform an array of industries, from bioengineering to optoelectronics to military defence. It also has a number of properties that are perfectly-suited to extreme-weather performance apparel.

Here’s a more in-depth look at the properties of graphene:

What is graphene?

Graphene is a single atomic layer of graphite (the material found in pencils), tightly organised into a hexagonal lattice. Simply put, it is the lightest, strongest, most conductive material ever discovered. It is a million times thinner than a hair. It is 200 times stronger than steel. And it is so light that a sheet the size of football pitch would weigh less than a gram.

Despite its remarkable potential, advances within textiles have been slow in coming – it is extremely difficult and expensive to produce in meaningful quantities. Harder still to manipulate for performance. However, following the precision process of bonding graphene with nylon and/or polyester, it has a wealth of functionalities.

What are the benefits?

First and foremost, graphene can regulate body heat better than any other material on earth. Due to its thermal conductive properties, body warmth is preserved and distributed when in cold climates and then dissipated accordingly during spells of physical exertion. When the wearer is cold, the graphene mesh takes heat from the hottest parts of the body and sends it to more vulnerable parts of the body. Conversely, when hot, it disperses warmth to prevent over-heating. And it doesn’t stop there...

It also reduces humidity, odour, bacteria, UV and radiation. The bacteriostatic quality means that sweat cannot grow or reproduce – simply put, the wearer will not smell in the same way that he or she might in everyday active wear.

All in all, graphene equates to clothing that is lighter, warmer and tougher, all of which are beneficial properties when operating in the world’s extremes. It is a hugely exciting material to be working with; you can expect to see more graphene in future Shackleton apparel as we continue our research and development. 

Where is this used in the Shackleton range?

Graphene is incorporated in two of our insulated down jackets: the Pilot Jacket and the FH-4 Photographer's Parka.

It also features in the Vincent Baselayer, our most innovative piece of knitwear to date.