How To Keep Warm In Extreme Cold Weather

Some of the winter weather gear worn by the US Army was designed 30 years ago. It’s heavy and can cause overheating during exertion, while also not doing a very good job of keeping the extremities from going numb.


That’s problematic if soldiers have to operate weapons as soon as they land,” said Paola D’Angelo, a research bioengineer at the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts. “So we want to pursue this fundamental research to see if we can modify hand wear for that extreme cold weather.”

Scientists are developing smart fabrics that heat up when powered and can capture sweat. The work, which was presented at the 254th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, is based on research from Stanford University in California. A team embedded a network of very fine silver nanowires in cotton, and was able to heat the fabric by applying power to the wires. D’Angelo and her colleagues are working to extend the approach to other fabrics more suitable for military uniforms, including polyester and a cotton/nylon blend. By applying three volts – the output of a typical watch battery – to a one-inch square of fabric, they were able to raise its temperature by almost 40 degrees C. The researchers are also incorporating a layer of hydrogel particles made of polyethylene glycol that will absorb sweat and stop the other layers of the fabric from getting wet.

Once we have optimised the coating, we can start looking at scaling up,” said D’Angelo. The fabric has been tested with up to three washes and still works the same as unwashed fabric for most of the textiles being tested.


Nanoweapons Against North Korea

Unless you’re working in the field, you probably never heard about U.S. nanoweapons. This is intentional. The United States, as well as Russia and China, are spending billions of dollars per year developing nanoweapons, but all development is secret. Even after’s June 6, 2016 headline, “US nano weapon killed Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, scientists say,” the U.S. offered no response.

Earlier this year, May 5, 2017, North Korea claimed the CIA plotted to kill Kim Jong Un using a radioactive nano poison, similar to the nanoweapon Venezuelan scientists claim the U.S. used to assassinate former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. All major media covered North Korea’s claim. These accusations are substantial, but are they true? Let’s address this question.

Unfortunately, until earlier this year, nanoweapons gleaned little media attention. However, in March 2017 that changed with the publication of the book, Nanoweapons: A Growing Threat to Humanity (2017 Potomac Books), which inspired two articles. On March 9, 2017, American Security Today published “Nanoweapons: A Growing Threat to Humanity – Louis A. Del Monte,” and on March 17, 2017, CNBC published “Mini-nukes and mosquito-like robot weapons being primed for future warfare.” Suddenly, the genie was out of the bottle. The CNBC article became the most popular on their website for two days following its publication and garnered 6.5K shares. Still compared to other classes of military weapons, nanoweapons remain obscure. Factually, most people never even heard the term. If you find this surprising, recall most people never heard of stealth aircraft until their highly publicized use during the first Iraq war in 1990. Today, almost everyone that reads the news knows about stealth aircraft. This may become the case with nanoweapons, but for now, it remains obscure to the public.

Given their relative obscurity, we’ll start by defining nanoweapons. A nanoweapon is any military weapon that exploits the power of nanotechnology. This, of course, begs another question: What is nanotechnology? According to the United States National Nanotechnology Initiative’s website,, “Nanotechnology is science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers.” To put this in simple terms, the diameter of a typical human hair equals 100,000 nanometers. This means nanotechnology is invisible to the naked eye or even under an optical microscope.


War: Never Underestimate The Power Of Small

If there is one lesson to glean from Picatinny Arsenal‘s new course in nanomaterials, it’s this: never underestimate the power of smallNanotechnology is the study of manipulating matter on an atomic, molecular, or supermolecular scale. The end result can be found in our everyday products, such as stained glass, sunscreen, cellphones, and pharmaceutical products. Other examples are in U.S. Army items such as vehicle armor, Soldier uniforms, power sources, and weaponry. All living things also can be considered united forms of nanotechnology produced by the forces of nature.
explosive3-dimensional tomography generated imaging of pores within a nanoRDEX-based explosive

People tend to think that nanotechnology is all about these little robots roaming around, fixing the environment or repairing damage to your body, and for many reasons that’s just unrealistic,” said Rajen Patel, a senior engineer within the Energetics and Warheads Manufacturing Technology Division, or EWMTD. The division is part of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center or ARDEC. “For me, nanotechnology means getting materials to have these properties that you wouldn’t expect them to have.”

The subject can be separated into multiple types (nanomedicine, nanomachines, nanoelectronics, nanocomposites, nanophotonics and more), which can benefit areas, such as communications, medicine, environment remediation, and manufacturingNanomaterials are defined as materials that have at least one dimension in the 1-100 nm range (there are 25,400,000 nanometers in one inch.) To provide some size perspective: comparing a nanometer to a meter is like comparing a soccer ball to the earth.

Picatinny‘s nanomaterials class focuses on nanomaterials‘ distinguishing qualities, such as their optical, electronic, thermal and mechanical properties–and teaches how manipulating them in a weapon can benefit the warfighter. While you could learn similar information at a college course, Patel argues that Picatinny‘s nanomaterial class is nothing like a university class. This is because Picatinny‘s nanomaterials class focuses on applied, rather than theoretical nanotechnology, using the arsenal as its main source of examples. “We talk about things like what kind of properties you get, how to make materials, places you might expect to see nanotechnology within the Army,” explained Patel. The class is taught at the Armament University.

In 2010, an article in The Picatinny Voice titled “Tiny particles, big impact: Nanotechnology to help warfighters” discussed Picatinny’s ongoing research on nanopowders. It noted that Picatinny‘s Nanotechnology Lab is the largest facility in North America to produce nanopowders and nanomaterials, which are used to create nanoexplosives. It also mentioned how using nanomaterials helped to develop lightweight composites as an alternative to traditional steel.

Not too long ago making milligram quantities of nanoexplosives was challenging. Now, we have technologies that allow us make pounds of nanoexplosives per hour at low cost“. Pilot scale production of nanoexplosives is currently being performed at ARDEC. The broad interest in developing nanoenergetics such as nano-RDX and nano-HMX is their remarkably low initiation sensitivity. There are two basic approaches to studying nanomaterials: bottom-up (building a large object atom by atom) and top-down (deconstructing a larger material). Both approaches have been successfully employed in the development of nanoenergetics at ARDEC. One of the challenges with manufacturing nonmaterials can be coping with shockwaves. A shockwave initiates an explosive as it travels through a weapon‘s main fill or the booster. When a shockwave travels through an energetic charge, it can hit small regions of defects, or voids, which heat up quickly and build pressure until the explosive reaches detonation. By using nanoenergetics, one could adjust the size and quantity of the defects and voids, so that the pressure isn’t as strong and ultimately prevent accidental detonation.

It’s a major production challenge because if you want to process nanomaterials–if you want to coat it with some polymer for explosives–any kind of medium that can dissolve these types of materials can promote ripening and you can end up with a product which no longer has the nanomaterial that you began with,”  However, nanotechnology research continues to grow at Picatinny as the research advances in the U.S. Army.


How To Erase Chips Remotely

A military drone flying on a reconnaissance mission is captured behind enemy lines, setting into motion a team of engineers who need to remotely delete sensitive information carried on the drone’s chips. Because the chips are optical and not electronic, the engineers can now simply flash a beam of UV light onto the chip to instantly erase all content. Disaster averted.

This James Bond-esque chip is closer to reality because of a new development in a nanomaterial developed by Yuebing Zheng, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering. His team described its findings in the journal Nano Letters.


The molecules in this material are very sensitive to light, so we can use a UV light or specific light wavelengths to erase or create optical components,” Zheng said. “Potentially, we could incorporate this LED into the chip and erase its contents wirelessly. We could even time it to disappear after a certain period of time.”

To test their innovation, the researchers used a green laser to develop a waveguide — a structure or tunnel that guides light waves from one point to another — on their nanomaterial. They then erased the waveguide with a UV light, and re-wrote it on the same material using the green laser. The researchers believe they are the first to rewrite a waveguide, which is a crucial photonic component and a building block for integrated circuits, using an all-optical technique.


Nanoparticles Detect Dirty Nuclear Bomb

One of the most critical issues the United States faces today is preventing terrorists from smuggling nuclear weapons into its ports. To this end, the U.S. Security and Accountability for Every Port Act mandates that all overseas cargo containers be scanned for possible nuclear materials or weapons.

Detecting neutron signals is an effective method to identify nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials. Helium-3 gas is used within detectors deployed in ports for this purpose. The catch? While helium-3 gas works well for neutron detection, it’s extremely rare on Earth. Intense demand for helium-3 gas detectors has nearly depleted the supply, most of which was generated during the period of nuclear weapons production during the past 50 years. It isn’t easy to reproduce, and the scarcity of helium-3 gas has caused its cost to skyrocket recently — making it impossible to deploy enough neutron detectors to fulfill the requirement to scan all incoming overseas cargo containersHelium-4 is a more abundant form of helium gas, which is much less expensive, but can’t be used for neutron detection because it doesn’t interact with neutrons.

A group of Texas Tech University researchers led by Professors Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin report this week in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, that they have developed an alternative materialhexagonal boron nitride semiconductors — for neutron detection. This material fulfills many key requirements for helium gas detector replacements and can serve as a low-cost alternative in the future. The group’s concept was first proposed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and received funding from its Academic Research Initiative program six years ago. By using a 43-micron-thick hexagonal boron-10 enriched nitride layer, the group created a thermal neutron detector with 51.4 percent detection efficiency, which is a record high for semiconductor thermal neutron detectors.

nuclear radiation

“Higher detection efficiency is anticipated by further increasing the material thickness and improving materials quality,” explained Professor Jiang, Nanophotonics Center and Electrical & Computer Engineering, Whitacre College of Engineering, Texas Tech University. “Our approach of using hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors for neutron detection centers on the fact that its boron-10 isotope has a very large interaction probability with thermal neutrons,” Jiang continued. “This makes it possible to create high-efficiency neutron detectors with relatively thin hexagonal boron nitride layers. And the very large energy bandgap of this semiconductor — 6.5 eV — gives these detectors inherently low leakage current densities.

The key significance of the group’s work? This is a completely new material and technology that offers many advantages. “Compared to helium gas detectors, boron nitride technology improves the performance of neutron detectors in terms of efficiency, sensitivity, ruggedness, versatile form factor, compactness, lightweight, no pressurization … and it’s inexpensive,” Jiang said.

This means that the material has the potential to revolutionize neutron detector technologies.

Beyond special nuclear materials and weapons detection, solid-state neutron detectors also have medical, health, military, environment, and industrial applications,” he added. “The material also has applications in deep ultraviolet photonics and two-dimensional heterostructures. With the successful demonstration of high-efficiency neutron detectors, we expect it to perform well for other future applications.”

The main innovation behind this new type of neutron detector was developing hexagonal boron nitride with epitaxial layers of sufficient thickness — which previously didn’t exist. “It took our group six years to find ways to produce this new material with a sufficient thickness and crystalline quality for neutron detection,” Jiang noted. “It’s surprising to us that the detector performs so well, despite the fact that there’s still a little room for improvement in terms of material quality,” he said. “These devices must be capable of detecting nuclear weapons from distances tens of meters away, which requires large-size detectors,” Jiang added. “There are technical challenges to overcome, but we’re working toward this goal.”


Impenetrable Body-Armor To Protect Soldiers

A team of engineers from the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) has developed and tested a type of steel with a record-breaking ability to withstand an impact without deforming permanently. The new steel alloy could be used in a wide range of applications, from drill bits, to body armor for soldiers, to meteor-resistant casings for satellites. The material is an amorphous steel alloy, a promising subclass of steel alloys made of arrangements of atoms that deviate from steel’s classical crystal-like structure, where iron atoms occupy specific locations.

Researchers are increasingly looking to amorphous steel as a source of new materials that are affordable to manufacture, incredibly hard, but at the same time, not brittle. The researchers believe their work on the steel alloy, named SAM2X5-630, is the first to investigate how amorphous steels respond to shock. SAM2X5-630 has the highest recorded elastic limit for any steel alloy, according to the researchers—essentially the highest threshold at which the material can withstand an impact without deforming permanently. The alloy can withstand pressure and stress of up to 12.5 giga-Pascals or about 125,000 atmospheres without undergoing permanent deformations.

record breaking steelTransmission electron microscopy image showing different levels of crystallinity embedded in the amorphous matrix of the alloy. Watch a video of the alloy being tested, click the image.
Because these materials are designed to withstand extreme conditions, you can process them under extreme conditions successfully,” said Olivia Graeve, a professor of mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego, who led the design and fabrication effort. Veronica Eliasson, an assistant professor at USC, led the testing efforts.

The researchers, from the University of California, San Diego, the University of Southern California and the California Institute of Technology, describe the material’s fabrication and testing in a recent issue of Nature Scientific Reports.


Graphene Nanoribbons Boost Electronics

Graphene, an atom-thick material with extraordinary properties, is a promising candidate for the next generation of dramatically faster, more energy-efficient electronics. However, scientists have struggled to fabricate the material into ultra-narrow strips, called nanoribbons, that could enable the use of graphene in high-performance semiconductor electronics.

Now, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have discovered a way to grow graphene nanoribbons with desirable semiconducting properties directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer. This advance could allow manufacturers to easily use graphene nanoribbons in hybrid integrated circuits, which promise to significantly boost the performance of next-generation electronic devices. The technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications, such as sensors that detect specific chemical and biological species and photonic devices that manipulate light.

In a paper published Aug. 10 in the journal Nature Communications, Michael Arnold, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, Ph.D. student Robert Jacobberger, and their collaborators describe their new approach to producing graphene nanoribbons. Importantly, their technique can easily be scaled for mass production and is compatible with the prevailing infrastructure used in semiconductor processing.

graphene nanoribbonsProgressively zoomed-in images of graphene nanoribbons grown on germanium. The ribbons automatically align perpendicularly and naturally grow in what is known as the armchair edge configuration.



Graphene nanoribbons that can be grown directly on the surface of a semiconductor like germanium are more compatible with planar processing that’s used in the semiconductor industry, and so there would be less of a barrier to integrating these really excellent materials into electronics in the future,” Arnold says.


WildCat,The Robot that Runs Up To 50 mph

The US company Boston Dynamics has presented a new robot called WILDCAT, with a current top speed of 16 mph (25 km/h) but it is designed to reach 50 mph (80km/h). Boston Dynamics builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity and speed using sensor-based controls and computation to unlock the capabilities of complex mechanisms.

Another robot: LS3 is a rough-terrain robot designed to go anywhere Marines and Soldiers go on foot, helping carry their load. Each LS3 carries up to 400 lbs of gear and enough fuel for a 20-mile mission lasting 24 hours. LS3 automatically follows its leader using computer vision, so it does not need a dedicated driver. It also travels to designated locations using terrain sensing andGPS. LS3 began a 2-year field testing phase in 2012. LS3 isfunded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps.
Organizations worldwide, from DARPA, the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps to Sony Corporation turn to Boston Dynamics for help creating the most advanced robots on Earth.
Boston Dynamics has assembled a solid team to develop the LS3, including engineers and scientists from Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation and Woodward HRT.


The US Army Develops Augmented Reality Lenses

Instead of oversized virtual reality helmets, digital images are projected onto tiny-full-color displays, that are very near the eye. These novel contact lenses allow users to focus simultaneously on objects that are close up and far away. This could improve ability to use tiny portable displays while still interacting with the surrounding environment. It is developed as part of DARPA's Soldier Centric Imaging via Computational Cameras (SCENICC) program. DARPA is the acronym for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which aims to "create and prevent strategic surprise". Researchers are located at Washington-based Innovega iOptiks branch (

SCENICC's objecive is to eliminate the ISR capability gap that exists at the individual Soldier level. The program seeks to develop novel computational imaging capabilities and explore joint design of hardware and software that give warfighters access to systems that greatly enhance their awareness, security and survivability. Let's remind that the companies Apple and Microsoft are competing to put on the market  their own nanocomputer lenses very soon  (