Breathable Vapor Toxicant Barriers Based on Multilayer Graphene Oxide

July 6, 2017

There is great interest in the development of new materials for personal protective equipment that allow for body temperature control for the wearer. These “breathable” protective fabrics must overcome the conflicting challenges of simultaneously excluding external toxicants while being permeable to water-vapor generated by perspiration. Brown SRP researchers have been addressing this challenge and have just reported their recent findings in the scientific journal ACS Nano.

The article: Breathable Vapor Toxicant Barriers Based on Multilayer Graphene Oxide, describes recent findings from the Brown team that make use of a chemically modified form of graphene, the single-atom- thick sheet-like nanomaterial first isolated in 2004. The Brown team designed and built a new device to measure the permeation of small-molecular toxicants in the presence of simulated perspiration and used it to study the properties of thin films fabricated by stacking together multiple layers the modified graphene.   The films were shown to be highly breathable, and to provide good rejection of the test compound, trichloroethylene, which is an industrial solvent and common environmental pollutant.

According to senior author and Project 4 leader, Robert Hurt, "This study suggests that multilayer GO films are promising candidates for active breathable barrier layers in the next generation of protective fabrics. Much more research needs to be done to optimize film properties, exclude a wider range of target toxicants and address other properties and functions required for practical applications.”