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Ancient meets modern: microscopic chain mail

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The folks at New Scientist are reporting that researchers at the University of Illinois have just made a very interesting breakthrough, which could, ironically, end future breakthroughs -- of your clothing, that is. Using manufacturing techniques borrowed from the microchip industry, they deposited a patterned layer of light-sensitive material to create a mold of interlinking gaps. Then they filled these gaps with copper metal. Several repetitions of these steps created the finished links -- and what they ended up with was a kind of tiny chain mail.

What's the big deal? Potentially, it could be used as armor, but it sounds like the researchers are more interested in the possibility of embedding tiny microchips in the "armor's" links, which could be used to heat clothes, or as sensors (for ... we're not sure what). Presumably, this "smart clothing" would change our lives; and all we'd have to do is change our clothes. Neat!

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