Nanotechnology Made Clear

Nanotechnology in Defense

Military types haven’t failed to notice that nanotechnology could make a big difference to how troops function, travel, and stay safe. The options range from what the well-dressed soldier will wear to methods for making aircraft that can chnage shape while the plane is in flight.

Nanotechnology in Defense: Applications under Developement

The Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN) are in the business of developing and taking advantage of nanotechnology to help soldiers survive in battle conditions. A nanobattlesuit is being developed that could be as thin as spandex and contain health monitors and communications equipment. Nanomaterials can also provide strength that far surpasses currently available materials, providing bullet shielding that’s much more effective. These jumpsuit style outfits might even be able to react to and stop biological and chemical attacks. This protection and these devices would be integrated into one suit that would be more efficient and lightweight than current packs. The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center has published a white paper that discusses how nanotechnology may be used in the "Future Soldier Initiative".

Researchers have worked on aircraft that swing their wings in close for high-speed flight and extend their wings to provide more lift for takeoff and landing. Unfortunately, the hinges that allow the wings to swing add weight, so researchers are developing materials that will need only an electrical voltage to change the shape of aircraft wings and other structures. NASA has developed a carbon nanotube polymer composite that bends when a voltage is applied. This video from NASA gives you an idea of what a future morphing aircraft might look like.

A Mission Adaptive Rotor program, is focused on improving the performance of helicopter rotors. Rotors that can morph would last longer and offer improved performance. These improvements come in part from a reduction in rotor vibration,. The improved performance involves an increase in the amount of weight that the helicopter can carry and an extension of its range.

Shape changing isn’t limited to the skies. The Transformer vehicle being developed by DARPA can travel on roads but is also capable of vertical take-off and landing. The body of the vehicle could morph to grow wings or pull them back in based on whether the vehicle is on land or aloft. As military personnel move around in the TX, they could use the capability to fly to circumvent obstacles, go over rough terrain, and avoid landmines or ambush, while retaining the capability to drive on roads.

 

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