NATICK, Mass. – Collaboration has long been second nature for researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, and now a partnership is developing “second-skin,” chemical-biological protection. NSRDEC is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the Air Force Civil Engineering Center, and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to develop second skin, the next generation of chemical-biological protection for the warfighter. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency sponsors the project, which is a high-priority effort. “The second skin will be a protective ”skin” engineered with textile materials as a substrate that will adapt to the environment that the Soldier is in,” said Dr. Paola D”Angelo, an NSRDEC research bioengineer. “The idea is that the skin will be lightweight, it will not retain heat, and it will be air and moisture permeable.” “The material design is based on the use of responsive polymer gels, including organohydrogels and functional chemical species such as catalysts,” said Dr. Ramanathan “Nagu” Nagarajan, senior research scientist for Soldier Nanomaterials at NSRDEC. “The second skin will be able to sense chemical and biological agents, which will trigger a response within the gels.