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Technology

Polymeric nanofibers (250-500nm) are formed by electrospinning, a process where droplets of polymer are drawn into thin threads via a strong electric field. The threads can be used as single-strands or are woven into larger pieces of cloth.  The cloth or fiber is chemically treated via layer-by-layer functionalization to introduce chemical or bacterial inactivation moieties (chemically-reactive polyanion and bactericidal polycation coatings respectively).  The technology has been reduced to practice at the laboratory scale and was demonstrated to degrade diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP - a close analog of the chemical warfare agent sarin) and was shown to kill E. coli and S. epidermidis.  Due to the fiber size, the resulting cloth is lighter and more breathable than current protective fabrics.