Scientists develop chem/bio agent sensitive fabric

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are currently developing a fabric made of carbon nanotubes that will be capable of protecting wearers against chemical and biological weapons.

The material contains pores that are only a few nanometers in diameter and can close when they come into contact with chemical or biological agents. The pores allow the material to remain breathable under normal circumstances, which can be critical to soldiers carrying heavy equipment in hot conditions, according to

Different nanotubes are being designed to react to different types of agents. Later versions of the fabric may also include an outer layer that could shed if contaminated.

"The uniform will be like a smart second skin that responds to the environment," Francesco Fornasiero, the project's lead investigator, said, reports.

The laboratory said that new uniforms made of the revolutionary material could be ready for use in the field within a decade.

The project is being funded with a five year, $13 million grant by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency. While Lawrence Livermore is the lead institution on the program, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, and Chasm Technologies are also participating.