Infantry: March 22, 2002


Like a page from Robert Heinlein's classic sci-fi novel, the US Army awarded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology a five-year, $50 million dollar grant to develop a new armored uniform that can morph to improve camouflage, stiffen to provide splints for broken limbs and store energy that can be tapped later to increase the wearer's strength. On 13 March, MIT said it is up to the task of designing such an armored uniform, which could detect threats and protect soldiers against projectiles and biological or chemical weapons. 

The average American foot soldier in Afghanistan carries around 140 pounds (64 kilograms) of body armor and equipment into battle. In December 2001, US Army command decided that they wanted to lighten this burden by redesigning the equipment from the atomic scale up. Ned Thomas of MIT's Department of Materials Science told the press that many existing nanotechnologies already had the potential to be scaled up into full suits of armor. - Adam Geibel


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