Tuesday, October 4, 2016

'Nano-kebab' fabric breaks down chemical warfare agents

'Nano-kebab' fabric breaks down chemical warfare agents: Researchers have created a fabric material containing nanoscale fibers that are capable of degrading chemical warfare agents (CWAs). Uniform coatings of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) were synthesized on top of the nanofibers, forming unique kebab-like structures. These MOFs are what break down the CWAs, rendering them harmless.

"Current technologies for addressing CWAs rely on carbon-based materials - but these carbon materials can only adsorb hazardous compounds, they can't degrade them," says Junjie Zhao, a former Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper on the work.

"Our goal was to develop new materials that can detoxify these CWA compounds, and we've been successful." The CWA degradation research was conducted by researchers in Gregory Parsons' group at NC State, and co-workers at RTI International and the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

"Previous research had found that MOFs can be effective at degrading CWAs," Zhao says. "However, MOFs normally come in the form of a powder. We wanted to see if we could grow MOFs as functional coatings onto fibers, so that they could be used in masks, filters and protective garments."

"We think that this demonstration of well-controlled MOF thin films that retain their chemical functionality is an important step for personal security and has implications for many other civilian and commercial uses," adds Parsons, who is Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State.