Juan Hinestroza at North Carolina State University, and researchers at the University of Puerto Rico have pioneered a method to develop chemical-resistant textiles by attaching nanolayers to natural fibers.
â€œThese layers are customized for different chemicals,â€? Hinestroza said. â€œWe can specifically block warfare agents like mustard or nerve gas, or industrial chemicals, while still allowing air and moisture to pass through to make the fabric breathable.â€?
Chemicals are blocked, when they bind to the polymers of the fibers, which are made of materials which attract the chemical agents.
These fabrics could be made into garments that offer very high levels of protection, without affecting comfort or usability.
There are dozens of potential uses of this technology. â€œImagine gloves coated with arthritis drugs; military uniforms coated with antibacterial layers to prevent infection in case of wound; antibacterial sheets for submarine bunks to prevent illness spread as these bunks are shared by enlisted personnel; and comfortable protective clothing against several chemical and biological warfare agents,â€? Hinestroza explained.
Additional uses could include diapers coated with anti-itching polyelectrolytes or tissues coated with anti-allergy medicine.