Why adding graphene to fabric might make the ultimate mosquito repellent

I remember listening on the radio to a spot about mosquitoes. The two hosts were going back and forth as to whether or not there was any real value for mosquitoes on earth. Indeed, one of them came up with an interesting argument that actually stopped me in my tracks to ponder and think over.

His argument went something like this … that mosquitoes were useful in the preservation of natural areas like woodlands and forest. How could that be you ask? Well I’ll tell you … it is though the perhaps areas that contained dense populations of mosquitoes help to keep humans out.

Is there really a good reason for mosquitoes to exist?

There must be an element of truth to this posit. Think about places like jungles and the rainforest. The few wild places left on earth pretty much remain only such at this point due to the fact that they are inhospitable places for human habitation. Or at least, they make it difficult for humans to occupy and establish permanent settlements without putting up a good amount of resistance.

So, I conceded to myself, okay, this might be a legitimate reason for the existence of mosquitoes. I mean after all, is there really any other? Large red and itchy welts, or the spread of malaria? Um … those are definitely not good reasons.

In fact, I was recently speaking with a couple of Canadian citizens who were telling me about spending time outdoors in the northern Canadian wilderness. They said that the nature is superb, but that you can’t really enjoy it because of the crazy number of mosquitoes and flies present. And supposedly they get quite large too. They continued to inform me that unless you’re wearing full body mosquito nets, or you have your camp under full mosquito net wraps, enjoying your time up there is a rather difficult endeavor.

Chemical sprays, garlic diets, and old wives tales

As others of you out there might experience as well, I am, unfortunately, a mosquito magnet. Whether it’s due to the fact I respire more carbon dioxide than others or because my blood is sweet – I really don’t know. I try not to use chemical sprays like Off or Deet for obvious reasons – the chief reason being they are potent neurotoxins.

The only thing that I ever felt (and this was through experience by trial and error) was including some garlic in the diet. That did seem to keep the mosquito brigade somewhat at bay. I also thought that perhaps that’s where the whole tale of vampires not liking garlic came from.

Regardless, there’s news now that there’s a new miracle material out there to keep the little biting buggers away. Researchers at Brown University have discovered that adding graphene to garments acts like a forcefield and keeps the mosquitoes away.

Graphene might make the ultimate outdoor gear

Graphene is a material that’s made from a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice. It’s very cool because for being so lightweight, this material has more strength than steel – 100 times stronger to be exact.

They experimented with lining fabrics with graphene oxide for another scientific pursuit and noticed that those wearing the garments had fewer issues with mosquitoes. It literally created a field in which hampered mosquitoes from using their proboscis ­– that needle tool of theirs they use to pierce your skin and sample your blood, couldn’t make it through the layer of graphene oxide.

Is this material too good to be true?

The optimistic news is that those wearing pieces of the material, mosquitoes did not even land on the exposed patches of skin. They just stayed away from those individuals all together. But here’s the bad news, the graphene oxide force field properties all but disappeared when it rained, and the material became wet.

If this graphene oxide material works out, it just might make the most ultimate outdoor gear. Fingers crossed that it all works out in the end.