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Due to the prevalence of chemical warfare, soldiers often carry chemical sensing devices, to warn of oncoming nerve agents. However, these devices are cumbersome. A lightweight, wearable chemical sensing fabric that doubles as a protectant against toxins would be beneficial. This fabric can be created by incorporating (1) organophosphate hydrolase, an enzyme capable of degrading organophosphates and releasing an acidic by product, and (2) polyaniline, a color changing polymer that changes from purple to green in the presence of acid, into nylon or polyvinyl alcohol nanofibers. The first step is to produce fabrics containing polyaniline and demonstrate that the fabrics change color in the presence of an acid.
Specifically, we have incorporated polyaniline into the fabrics using two methods. In one method, the polyaniline dispersions are blended with polyvinyl alcohol and electrospun into nanofibers. In the second method, polyaniline is grafted to the surface of nylon nanofibers.
Currently, the sensitivity over numerous cycles is under investigation. The lowest sensitivity of instantaneous color change for the nylon grafted fabrics was 1.6μM HCl. Further research will be conducted to establish a standard detection sensitivity and to incorporate organophosphate hydrolase into the fabric.
Nanofibers, nerve agent, colorimetric detection, electrospinning, polyaniline
Chemical Engineering | Polymer Science
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