We all know from sad experience that even if an innerspring mattress seems perfectly fine when you buy it new, however after a while the springs wear out and you’re left with a creaky, uncomfortable, sad excuse for a bed. Nanotechnology is here to save the day.
Many people have never even heard of this cutting-edge science, but it’s quite simple: nanotechnology studies and modifies elements at the particle level, so it can be applied to almost anything you can imagine. And when you apply it to mattresses, you get an extremely pleasant result.
Scientists at the University of Florida and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a mattress built on flexible nano-engineered carbon microtubes. In form and appearance this material will basically resemble foam.
The two schools published their findings in Journal Science in 2006 and essentially revealed that by using nanotechnology they were able to create a thin film of multiwalled carbon tubes. These tubes were then combined into large groups to create the foam-like structure, which behaves quite similarly to the famous memory foam employed by high-end luxury companies like Tempur-Pedic.
There is one key difference: nanotube foam recovers its shape much faster than conventional foam and doesn’t collapse or fracture under weight. Thanks to some brilliant engineers, the nano-foam is able to compress to approximately one-sixth of its normal size and still rebound completely as if it had never been compressed.
Researchers have even taken cosmetic appearance into consideration. They have designed and patented small fibers known as “nano-whiskers” that measure only 1/1000th the width of a human hair. These are then attached to the individual fibers that make up fabric.
They act as a protective shield over the fabric because substances bead up and wick off the whiskers before they ever get through to the fabric itself, thereby allowing it to repel stains. Almost every mattress manufacturer who produces the memory foam mattress also equips the fabric surface of that mattress with nano-whiskers so that the mattress is not only softer and more comfortable for your body, but also easier to clean.
Some companies don’t produce mattresses that are completely composed of nano-foam, but almost every serious contender in the mattress industry is now providing at least one model that incorporates nano-foam elements in one way or another. They are tapping into the technology that will revolutionize our generation: nano-materials can “do it themselves.”
We are already beginning to see Eddie Bauer khakis that can’t be stained, shirts that “eat” odors or self-clean, and household cleaning chemicals that require only a quick spray-on application and then keep surfaces clean for weeks. And, of course, the nano-mattress, which is made of the same molecularly engineered carbon tubules that NASA plans to use for its infamous space elevator.
NASA needed a material that was strong enough yet also light enough to handle the forces that would assail a cable strung from Earth into space orbit, and out of all the available materials at their disposal they chose nano-carbon tubules, the same substance used in a nano-foam mattress.
The more you learn about nano-mattresses, the more you want to replace your creaky old innerspring. And if you find out more about that old innerspring mattress you’ll become even more eager to update.
The traditional innerspring mattress uses what is known as a “Bonnell coil,” which was directly adapted from late-19th century buggy seats. It has almost nothing to do with the human body and sometimes causes adverse effects, as anyone who’s ever woken up with a sore back can attest.
But now you have miraculous modern materials like nano-foam, which can resist stains, conform to your body more effectively than any other substance, and won’t tear, collapse, or indent.
All of this is remarkable, but it’s even more impressive when you consider how much comfort the researchers were able to achieve using such a limited amount of material. The nano-foam ratio they developed for use in these mattresses is 85% air, giving new meanings to the phrases “Lighter than air,” and “Less is more.”
When you crush a traditional innerspring mattress during testing, each of the coils reacts individually—this means that as the weight of your body pushes on such a mattress, you will have an uneven surface putting stress on your joints and muscles. Nano-foam fixes these issues because each of its tiny tubes moves in unison with the others.
During its crushing test it showed unanimous movement throughout the mattress body, which translates directly into comfort that conforms to your every move.
These nano-materials, with their unprecedented levels of springiness and luxury, are also extremely strong. Researchers are continuing to find varied uses for this wonderfully versatile new foam, including high-tech cushioning pads, energy-absorbent coatings, and various accessories that will probably be used by NASA in space-flight.
This harks back to tempur, also known as memory foam. Tempur revolutionized the way people sleep when it was introduced into the public market back in the late 90’s. Looking at how memory foam has so drastically and positively affected our quality of life gives you some idea of the incredible nature of nano-foam, which is basically the new tempur.
Nanotechnology has effectively outdated memory foam in the same way that memory foam outdated the innerspring, all thanks to some brilliant scientists. And after all, I don’t know about you, but those are the people I want working on my mattress.