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Home > News > Carbon Nanotube Clothing Could Take Charge in an Emergency [Slide Show]

December 12th, 2008

Carbon Nanotube Clothing Could Take Charge in an Emergency [Slide Show]

A soldier is badly wounded on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq by a roadside explosive. As he lies beside his vehicle, unable to reach his radio to contact his unit on his location and condition, blood from the wound seeps into his shirt. Luckily, its fibers are coated with cylindrical, nanosize carbon molecules that contain antibodies able to detect the presence of albumin, a protein common in blood. The shirt senses that its wearer is bleeding and sends a signal through the shirt's carbon nanotubes (1,000 times more conductive than copper) that activates an emergency radio-frequency beacon on the soldier's belt. This distress call is picked up by a nearby patrol that rushes to the aid of their wounded comrade.

This may be the stuff of science fiction, but ongoing development of fabrics coated with carbon nanotubes and other nanoscale substances could someday make such smart clothing a reality, says Nicholas Kotov, an engineering professor at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Kotov and several colleagues have taken the first step of creating carbon nanotube-coated cotton fibers woven into a swatch of fabric a few square inches in size, they report this week in the American Chemical Society journal, Nano Letters


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