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 -
New Glass Tough As Steel
'Windows of an artificial transparent element...'' - Olaf Stapledon, 1930.
Blackest Black? New Disordered Nanostructured Material
'Well, we have a black coating now that’s ninety-nine percent absorptive...' - Doc Smith, 1934.
Boeing Creates Lightest Metal Ever
'A metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Light Molecules (And Maybe Light Sabers, Someday)
'It will be matter, matter made of light...'- John W. Campbell, 1930.
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.
Blue Origin Reusable Rocket's Vertical Landing
We're getting there, one launch at a time.
X125 Snake-Arm Inspection Robot Video
'... long, flexible, glittering tentacles...'
Super-Thin Smart Glazing Displays
'...a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling color.'
Have Scientists Found A Parallel Universe Leaking Into Ours
'Ellis had found a weak point, a shimmer, at which another continuum completely had been visible.'
Active Wellness Smart Car Seat
'Maybe the car was right...'
Tech Tats Prototype Sfnal Devices
'...Permanently fixed in the centre of his forehead.'
ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."
Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'
Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'
Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'
Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'
Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'
Police Use Predictive Maps ala 'Minority Report' Routinely
'...the data-receptors, and the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'
Tesla Autopilot Road Trip 2995 Miles, 57 Hours
'The beautiful old car cruised ... under the guidance of its automatic controls...'
The 'Marching Mountains' Of Pluto
Calling Captain Future!
Graphene Thermopile May Grant Predator Heat Vision To Humans
'What the hell are you?'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories