'Second skin' material could help protect against biological and chemical agents

Engineering

US scientists are working to develop an advanced new material that could be used by soldiers in the field to protect against biological and chemical agents.

A team from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have received funding from the SU Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to create a "second skin" material that is highly breathable yet protective.

“Scientists have developed a new 'second skin' material that could help to protect military personnel from biological and chemical agents.“

Flexible polymeric membranes were fabricated with aligned carbon nanotube channels acting as moisture-conductive pores less than five nanometres in width - 5,000 times less than the breadth of a human hair.

This means that most biological agents are simply too big to penetrate the surface, while work is also being done to ensure the material's membrane is also able to adjust to automatically block smaller chemical threats.

Current efforts are dedicated to making sure the material is able to achieve a rapid transition from a breathable state to a protective state.

Tracee Whitfield, the DTRA science and technology manager for the Dynamic Multifunctional Material for a Second Skin programme, said: "Swatch-level evaluations will occur in early 2018 to demonstrate the concept of second skin, a major milestone that is a key step in the maturation of this technology."

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