278247 Combatting Weapons of Mass Destruction Through Innovation in Convergence of Chemical Engineering and Biology

Monday, October 29, 2012: 1:05 PM
Pennsylvania West (Westin )
Stephen Lee, US Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, NC

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) continue to constitute a threat overhanging society with the ever-expanding capability to more readily prepare some of the core WMD materials including chemical and biological warfare agents.  Critical needs continue to detection of, protection against, and destruction of these threats.  The convergence of Biology and Chemical Engineering is beginning to elucidate exciting examples where advanced, multi-functional concepts, combining detection, protection, and destruction in a single system, are being developed.  Dynamic and responsive properties are known throughout nature and more recently have been realized in designing non-biological systems.  There are many examples of responsive nanomaterials such as abiotic enzymes, responsive micelles, electroactive polymers, and responsive liquid crystalline surfaces to name a few.  These materials all change morpohology, structure, or function in response to an external stimulus such as pH, oxidation, conductivity, or a chemical trigger.   Key fundamental issues around chemical reactivity, mass transport, nanostructured design, biological/abiological interfaces, and biomimetic systems are all critical for advancement of these systems.  A challenge for chemical engineering is to use the chemistry and designs of biology in the dynamic systems to develop complete multi-functional solutions , which react with the threat to trigger a reaction that indicates the presence of the threat, neutralizes the threat, and then indicates the threat has been neutralized.   Advances in these areas will ultimately revolutionize smart systems for protection from WMDs.

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