A researcher demonstrates the flexibility of a carbon nanotube membrane. (LLNL)

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Lab have created a material that is highly breathable, yet protective from biological agents. This material is the first key component of futuristic smart uniforms that also will respond to, and protect soldiers from, environmental chemical hazards. Flexible polymeric membranes feature aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) channels as moisture conductive pores.

These membranes provide effective protection from biological threats by size exclusion rather than by merely preventing wetting. Test results show that CNT pores combine high breathability and bio-protection in a single functional material. The carbon nanotube membranes can be surface-modified with chemical-threat-responsive functional groups.