A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists working at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry and ALS has created a material that is highly breathable yet protective from potential warfare agents. This material is the first key component of futuristic smart uniforms that also will respond to and protect from environmental chemical hazards.
High breathability is a critical requirement for protective clothing to prevent heat-stress and exhaustion when military personnel are engaged in missions in contaminated environments. Current protective military uniforms are based on heavyweight full-barrier protection or permeable adsorptive protective garments that cannot meet the critical demand of simultaneous high comfort and protection, and provide a passive rather than active response to an environmental threat.
The team fabricated flexible polymeric membranes with aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) channels as moisture conductive pores. The size of these pores is less than 5 nanometers yet provide rates of water vapor transport that surpass those of commercial breathable fabrics like GoreTex.