Reactive Materials

Self-decontaminating materials are an attractive alternative to existing barrier materials for providing next generatin chemical and biological weapons (CB) protection capability for the DOD.  The adoption of novel self-decontaminating materials is expected to lead to significant improvements over present day barrier materials by reducing or eliminating the need for washing and decontamination while simultaneously enhancing protection by decerasing the risk of spreading the threat agent following CBW exposure.  The failure of current reactive materials to meet DOD's stringent requirements is partially due to the lack of a fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the physical and chemical interactions between these materials and the surrounding environment and/or threat agent.  Because these interactions occur primarily at the material/environment (solid/vapor) interface, it is critical to form a more comprehensive molecular-level understanding of the relevant surface interactions in order to better define the structure/function and sturcture/activity relationships of these materials.

The objective of this program is to investigate and characterize molecular-level details of self-decontaminating material surfaces ineracting with environmental constituents (e.g., water vapor and CBW simulants).  By gaining a better understanding of the relevant interactions and reaction mechanisms occurring at these material surfaces, Boise Technology is working with the Army to facilitate the rational design of improved self-decontaminating materials.  In an effort to provide the necessary molecular-level surface information, VSFG spectroscopy is used to investigate thin film reactive material coatings under a variety of environmental conditions.  Coupled with measurements of the macrosopic surface properties and reactivity, this unique surface characterization helps to provide insight into structure-function/structuer-activity relationships that will facilitate the systematic design of new self-decontaminating materials possessing superior personnel and equipment protection properties.

This project has culminated in the successful construction and implementation of our second state-of-the-art ultrafast nonlinear optical spectrometer capable of examining the vibrational signatures of surface molecular species spanning nearly the entire spectral region covered by a typical FTIR spectrometer.  Research under this program has most notably included the first measurement of the effects of environmental variables on the surface structure of reactive functionalities at the surface of self-decontaminating polymers.


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