Next gen military uniforms could change into chemical suits automatically

The military is looking into a new next-gen technology that could see a soldier's fatigues be able to automatically turn into a protective shell if chemical or biological weapons are detected.

Military technology is constantly evolving and agencies like DARPA is helping to shape some of the future technology that we, as regular consumers, will end up using in the future. Where we generally are always looking for the new and the coolest of toys and gadgets the military is looking at future technology to do two things: eliminate threats more efficiently and to keep soldiers as safe as possible from the dangers of war.

One of the primary concerns of the military is the increasing possibility of enemies using more and more sophisticated chemical and biological weapons against soldiers in the field. Well thanks to researchers at UMass Amherst soldiers may soon get a rather unique, and very cool, second skin due to some recently developed nanotube-based fabrics.

This fabric is intended for use in the uniforms worn by soldiers and to provide protection from certain biological and chemical weapons used against them. While the military already has chemical warfare suits they are both cumbersome, really hot to wear, and require time to get in and out of. These new nanotube-based fatigues on the other hand would be able to switch from a highly breathable state (like the current uniforms) into a protective one once it is triggered by the presence of a chemical or biological attack; all this happening before the soldier may even recognize the threat.

It is a mix of breathable membranes imbued with pores made of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes that allows for a multi-state material designed to respond to various types of biological and chemical triggers.

The technology is still in the lab but the researchers believe that we could see practical applications in the field within the next decade.

via PopSci / image courtesy of the US Army