Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Counter Agent

Anti-nerve agent lattice that could be incorporated into protective materials

01 February 2020

Counter Agent

Nerve agents are poisons that block signals through the nervous system to the rest of the body, often leading to permanent damage or death. Their use as weapons has declined since World War II, but unfortunately protection is still required, and this newly-created chemical structure may hold the key. A metal-organic framework (MOF) made from a lattice of organic threads holds tiny lumps, or nodes, of zirconium – creating round 'pores' that capture molecules of nerve agents like VX. The pores also have room for water collected from the atmosphere, an essential ingredient in hydrolysis reactions which break down the poison particles. Weaving MOFs into materials used to make protective suits or masks will hopefully pit science against science to protect human lives from these horrible manmade chemicals.

Written by John Ankers

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