Breathable, Stimuli-Responsive, and Self-Sealing Chemical Barrier Material Based on Selectively Superabsorbing Polymer

Timothy Burgin, Konrad Rykaczewski, Kenneth Manning, Akshay Phadnis, Praveen Kotagama, Danny Simonet

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The persistent use of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) by rogue states in current conflicts provides a reminder that these hazards remain a real threat. Although hazmat suits made of fully impermeable barrier materials provide an effective means of protecting against CWAs, they also inhibit evaporative cooling which can cause rapid hyperthermia. This conundrum has motivated a search for novel materials that allow water vapor but not CWA permeation. Here we show that, at least for aerosolized CWA, this can be achieved using a highly breathable composite fabric that self-seals only when exposed to target chemicals. Our approach is based on the use of selectively superabsorbing polymer (SAP) microbeads that are dispersed on a highly breathable fabric. Many CWAs, especially nerve and blistering agents, have low vapor pressure and are typically dispersed as a "fog"via aerosolization. We show that upon contact with an example organic aerosol (o-xylene) the proposed SAP microbeads dispersed on a nylon mesh rapidly swell, seal pores in the material, and inhibit passage of the microdroplets. In contrast, the SAP microbeads do not swell on contact with water and provide a water vapor permeation rate of over 10 kg m-2 day-1, comparable to a cotton shirt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication240th ECS Meeting - Biosensors and Nanoscale Measurements
Subtitle of host publicationA Symposium in Honor of Professors Nongjian Tao and Stuart Lindsay
PublisherIOP Publishing Ltd
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781607685395
StatePublished - 2021
Event240th ECS Meeting - Orlando, United States
Duration: Oct 10 2021Oct 14 2021

Publication series

NameECS Transactions


Conference240th ECS Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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