In the run-up to the Iraq war there was a lot of concern that Saddam Hussein might use chemical weapons against our servicemen and women on the battlefield. One of the big problems to keep in mind while combating chemical weapons is that there aren't really any good options for what to wear (a bigger concern than you might think). One option is to don a butyl rubber suit, which keeps nearly everything bad out, but keeps the soldier's sweat in. Unfortunately, trapping heat has some nasty consequences, which can lead to heat stroke or in the worst scenario, death. Scientists at the University of Colorado have just devised a solution to make butyl rubber breathable by combining it with liquid crystals to create 1.2 nanometer-wide pores, which allow sweat to go out, but prevent larger, nastier stuff from getting in. The researchers also add that there may be a way to use this same technology to get that pesky NaCl out of salt water. From the little that we know about textiles science, this sounds like a beefed up version of Gore-Tex -- that reminds us, we'd like our breathable rubber suits in black, please (it'll go with the most of our gadgets that way).
[Via Scientific American]