For example, such displays could help military forces identify chemical contamination. If a soldier goes around a corner and sees something yellow oozing from a container, the soldier could consult the display to figure out what the substance is, Folkerts said.
Carbon nanotube antifreeze
The nonprofit is also working on a new de-icing coating for unmanned aircraft, made of carbon nanotube fibers.
To apply it, the fibers — which are electrically conductive — are sprayed on the plane's surface. The fibers are then hooked up to a power source that heats them up and prevents ice from forming. Compared to existing alternatives, the carbon nanotube coating is extremely lightweight and consumes very little power, Battelle officials said.
Battelle doesn't only develop technology for the military; the organization furnishes products for civilian uses, too. The nonprofit owns Bluefin Robotics, which developed the Bluefin-21, the robotic submersible that was used to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines airplane in the Indian Ocean.
These vehicles are designed to dive to depths of 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) beneath the sea surface, withstanding extreme pressure. "If you put a Cadillac SUV on your toenail, it still would not be at that pressure," said Matt Shaw, general manager of the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives defense business unit at Battelle.
In addition to searching for the missing plane, the underwater bots can be used to inspect the hulls of ships or oil wellheads, to prevent leaks such as the one that triggered the disastrous 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
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