Military Fabric Like A Smart Second Skin
Next-generation military uniforms may use a fabric that repels chemical and biological agents in one 'mode' and then reverts to a more breathable fabric that is more easily wearable.
The researchers say the fabric will be able to switch reversibly from a highly breathable state to a protective one in response to the presence of the environmental threat without the need for an external control system. In the protective state, the uniform material will block the chemical threat while maintaining a good breathability level. “The uniform will be like a smart second skin that responds to the environment,” says Fornasiero.
UMass Amherst polymer scientists bring expertise in additive-driven assembly processes that bring polymers and nanoparticles together to produce hybrid functional materials to the project. Membrane and layer fabrication will take place in part through the university’s Roll-to-Roll Nanofabrication Laboratory.
The new fabric’s reversibility is due to highly breathable membranes with pores made of a few-nanometer-wide, vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes modified with a functional surface layer designed to respond to the presence of a chemical warfare agent, says Watkins at UMass Amherst. The threat response would be triggered by direct chemical warfare agent attack. The fabric would switch to a protective state by closing the pore entrance or by shedding the contaminated surface layer.
For wearer comfort and safety, high breathability is a critical requirement for protective clothing to prevent heat stress when military personnel are engaged in missions in contaminated environments. To provide high breathability, the new composite material will take advantage of the unique transport properties of carbon nanotube pores, which offer gas transport rates two orders of magnitude faster than any other pore of similar size.
The polymer scientists point out that biological agents such as bacteria and viruses are close to 10 nanometers in size. Because the membrane pores on the uniform are only a few nanometers wide, these membranes will block such agents.
However, chemical agents such as mustard gas and nerve gas can be much smaller and require the membrane pores to be able to react to block that threat. To create a multifunctional membrane, the research team plans to modify the surface of the original prototype carbon nanotube membranes with chemical threat responsive functional groups. These functional groups sense and block the threat like gatekeepers on entrance.
The scientists also plan to develop a second, “shedding” response scheme in which the fabric exfoliates upon recation with a chemical agent. In this way, the fabric will be able to block chemical agents such as sulfur mustard (blister agent), GD and VX nerve agents, toxins such as staphylococcal enterotoxin and biological spores such as anthrax.
Carter at UMass Amherst says, “Mimicking the way real skin responds to threats by exfoliation and shedding of contaminated areas will allow for a dynamic responsive garment, all achieved through controlled chemical reactions in this new advanced fabric.”
Science fiction writers have helped us all dream about fabrics that are either protective - or transformable. In his 1951 novel Foundation, Isaac Asimov wrote about an unstainable plasto-textile, while readers of Neal Stephenson's 1995 novel The Diamond Age recall the fabricates that would actually eject dirt or other unwanted particles from garments.
JG Ballard fans will want me to remember clothing that was designed to transform, like the bio-fabrics from his 1970 short story Say Goodbye to the Wind.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/29/2012)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
Synthetic 'Squid Skin' For Camouflage On The Way
'The small, chameleon-clad figures continued to advance.'- Gordon R. Dickson, 1960.
Shape-Shifting Carbon Fiber
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.
'Diamond Nanothreads' Now, Someday Space Elevators?
'It is a continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.
Diamond Nanothreads For Space Elevators?
'Continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal.'- Arthur C. Clarke.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Robot Brains Improved By Darwinian Evolution
'The new species. Evolution. The race to come after man.'
Self-Deployable Habitat For Extreme Environments
'When you buy one of them, you don't need to tie up to an electric outlet.'
Audi's Chairless Chair Lower Body Exoskeleton
'Solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'
CreoPop 3D Pen Draws In Midair
'It makes drawings in the air...'
Seattle Police Body Cams, Ala Stross, Ala Dick
'Let's hear it for the vague blur!'
Autonomous Cars Will Own Themselves
'The robot drew his cab up before Eric's modest six-room bungalow.'
World's First 3D Printed Villa
'It makes drawings in the air following drawings...'
Hyperloop Track Starts Next Year
Brainflight Brain-Controlled Drone
'Mr Gant, you must think in Russian. Can you do that?'
Students Control Lab Experiments Remotely Via App
'Hello, Europa... Is this your robot I'm looking at, in sector 94?'
ROBEAR Nursing Care Robot
What other robots are strong enough to carry you? Do you want them to do so?
Testing New Spacesuits In 1929 And 2015
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
Space Station Kitchens 1929 and 2015
'Plates and cups ... slowly floated down to the floor and were not broken.'
Volvo's 'Drive Me' Program Offers Autonomous Cars In 2017
'She woke just before the signal from the car which would have called her...'
Squad X Core Technologies For Infantry
'You can flip through your several types of radar displays quicker than you can change channels to avoid a commercial...'
Neptune Duo Smartwatch Wearable Wristband
'[He] pressed several buttons on the wide bracelet he wore upon his left wrist...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories