Breathable Nanofabric Could Protect Aainst Biothreats

September
2016

A breathable fabric pocked with tiny carbon nanotube pores could be the first step toward clothing that can protect against threats both biological and chemical.

Currently, HAZMAT suits and other protective clothing trade protection for breathability; anything impermeable enough to keep pathogens or chemicals out is also too impermeable to allow the wearer to perspire. Imagine treating Ebola in the tropical summer heat or patrolling in the desert in mid-July, and the problem becomes quickly apparent.

Answering a call by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Dept. of Defense, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) chemical engineer Francesco Fornasiero and colleagues showed that a carbon nanotube fabric can protect against biological threats while still exceeding the breathability of standard sportswear.

“With further engineering and functionalization schemes, the idea is to further develop this material with the ability to provide protection from chemical threats also,” Fornasiero says.

The material — so far made only on the centimeter scale — is...

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