Scientist develop ‘smart uniform’ that may protect soldiers from chemical weapons
Scientists have created a highly breathable material that may act like a second smart skin for soldiers. This uniform is also designed to protect them from hazards like viruses and chemical weapons.
According to scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the fabric, a technology they call “second skin” is more breathable than Gore-Tex.
They have fabricated flexible polymeric membranes with aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) channels as moisture conductive pores.
The size of these pores less than 5 nanometres (nm) - 5,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. To provide high breathability, the new composite material takes advantage of the unique transport properties of carbon nano tube pores.
Biological threats like bacteria or viruses are much larger and typically more than 10 nm in size.
Performed tests demonstrated that the CNT membranes repelled dengue virus from aqueous solutions during filtration tests.
This confirms that LLNL developed CNT membranes provide effective protection from biological threats by size exclusion rather than by merely preventing wetting. The results show that CNT pores combine high breathability and bio-protection in a single functional material.
However, chemical agents are much smaller in size and require the membrane pores to react to block the threat.
To encode the membrane with a smart and dynamic response to small chemical hazards, researchers are surface modifying these prototype carbon nano tube membranes with chemical-threat-responsive functional groups.
These functional groups will sense and block the threat like gatekeepers on the pore entrance.
(With Agency inputs)