Thursday, September 1, 2016

`Smart skin' uniform to protect soldiers from bio-weapons!

Scientists have created a highly breathable mate rial that may lead to futuristic smart `second skin' uniforms that can protect soldiers from biological agents and chemical hazards in the field. High breathability is a critical requirement for protective clothing to prevent heat stress and exhaustion when military personnel are engaged in missions in contaminated environments.
Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) fabricated flexible polymeric membranes with aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) channels as moisture
conductive pores.
The size of these pores less than 5 nanometres (nm) -is 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 nanotube 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 nanotube membranes with chemical-threat-responsive functional groups.
These functional groups will sense and block the threat like gatekeepers on the pore entrance.

Source: TOI