In the near future, U.S. soldiers could possibly not have to worry about the threat of chemical warfare on the battlefield. Prototypes of a new “smart uniform” are in the process of being designed to shield them from hazards such as viruses and chemical weaponry. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California stated this past week.
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The ‘second skin’ uniform has fabrics that contain tiny carbon nanotubes that function as channels to let water vapor out, at the same time the suit blocks biological agents like viruses from entering the suit and causing harm. Each one of the nanotubes is tiny in diameter: to put into perspective a human hair is roughly 5,000 times wider. The lab claims that it’s so small it could keep out biologic hazards like the dengue virus that is caused by a mosquito in tropical areas.
According to the lab, the fabric is more breathable than Gore-Tex which is an extremely thin membrane with more than 9,000 different pores in the fabric.
The Lab is also exploring ways to protect soldiers against chemical agents which could possibly fit through the current carbon nanotubes. These strategies include having the tubes seal when they detect a threat. With some chemical warfare being undetectable to the human eye and nose, this could be a life changing approach to combating a chemical attack.
They’re also considering the idea of adding a layer on top of the fabric that can neutralize the agent. Then soldiers can simply peel away the contaminated layer.
Kuang Jen Wu, the leader of the biosecurity and biosciences group at the lab said in a statement, “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.”
If this technology can keep our soldiers safe from chemical attacks, this could make chemical warfare useless against us. Needless to say, this would give us a huge advantage in a war or terrorist attack.