August 28, 2019
A special type of polymer capable of disappearing without a trace is being tested by the US government.
Scientists say the material, made by researchers at the American Chemical Society at the behest of the Department of Defense, could be used to deploy electronic sensors and deliver military equipment covertly by dropping off packages and leaving no sign that the device was ever there.
‘This is not the kind of thing that slowly degrades over a year, like the biodegradable plastics that consumers might be familiar with,’ said Paul Kohl a doctor whose team developed the material.
‘This polymer disappears in an instant when you push a button to trigger an internal mechanism or the sun hits it.’
To achieve the the rapid transition from a solid state to decomposition, researchers say they used a type of polymer with a ‘low ceiling temperature,’ meaning that its bonds quickly break apart when above a certain threshold.
In this case, scientists used a light-sensitive catalyst to kickstart the polymers decomposition, meaning that as soon as the material is exposed to sunlight, it begins to vanish.
This would theoretically allow an operative to send out the polymer at night, leaving no trace of it when the sun rises.
Using this method, the researchers say they were also able to adjust the timing of decomposition to create materials with a longer shelf-life.
This article was posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2019 at 4:21 pm