Description: The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a new self-decontaminating coating for use in filters, clothing, and disposable wipes that is capable of actively destroying pesticides, chemical agents, and certain bacteria on contact. The coating comprises a thin, layered, composite film containing enzymes, which actively degrade chemical toxins, and a polyelectrolyte binder. It is readily applied to substrates such as beads, fabrics, or paper by inexpensive methods such as dip coating, spin coating or spraying. Our method for incorporating enzymes within a film maintains enzyme activity, while stabilizing and protecting the enzyme from denaturation due to mechanical, chemical, and environmental stress. For example, filters prepared using beads coated with films containing organophosphorous hydrolase (OPH) enzyme completely hydrolyzed methyl parathion (MPT) pesticide in an aqueous-alcohol solution under continuous flow conditions at room temperature for at least 8 months. Our materials offer unique platforms as effective systems for the active, self-decontamination of chemical toxins for homeland defense, agricultural, and other commercial applications.

Advantages/Features Include:

  • Made from low-cost, easy-to-obtain, water-based materials.
  • Easy to apply - existing fabric or wipes can be spray or dip coated.
  • Efficient degradation of toxins on contact.
  • Self-decontaminating - coating actively and continuously degrades toxins.
  • Versatility - enzymes can be selected for activity against target toxin.
  • Flexibility - other functions (e.g. antibacterial activity) readily added to films.

Applications Include:

  • Water Purification (e.g. filters)- pesticide remediation in aqueous environments
  • Personal Protection (e.g. gloves, masks, clothing) - exposure to chemical agents
  • Surface Decontamination (e.g. disposable wipes) - chemical spill cleanup


  • "Self-Cleaning Fabrics for Decontamination of Organophosphorous Pesticides and Related Chemical Agents", Adv. Mater. 2004, 16, 2112-2115.
  • "Sustained Enzyme Activity of Organophosphorus Hydrolase in Polymer Encased Multilayer Assemblies", Langmuir 2003, 19, 1330-1336.

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