The U.S. military has a pretty decent system for keeping its troops safe if there's a biological or chemical attack. But getting the toxins off of its gear -- that's a major hassle. The Army still relies on a four-decade old, ultra-corrosive solution to get rid of bio- or chem-agents. And new research, into toxic-eating enzymes and foams, hasn't fully bloomed, yet.So Darpa is on the hunt for materials that can decontaminate themselves. The biocidal coatings would be used for everything from electronics to tank hulls, sensors to personnel carriers' insides.In its call for proposals, issued last week, Darpa envisions a two-part research effort, lasting a total of three-and-a-half years.The research would be centered in three areas: surface modification, self-cleaning and renewal, and sporicide development.

First, the surface modification thrust must demonstrate biocidal activity on the surface with less than 0.5 percent additive. This implies that a very small percentage of the bulk material will contain the biocidal compound and that most of the effective biocide will reside at the surface. Second, the self-cleaning thrust requires the biocidal surface properties be persistent over ten (10) challenge/renewal cycles. The third thrust, on sporicide development, requires the demonstration of a surface capable of killing or rendering spores harmless.
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