LIVERMORE (CBS/AP) — Scientists are designing a snakeskin-like protective suit that would shield its wearers against a chemical or biological attack.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratory scientists call it the “Second Skin,” a fabric featuring microscopic tubes that can transform from a breathable state to a shield that blocks tiny chemical molecules.

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Scientist Francesco Fornasiero and his team originally developed the technology to desalinate water, but realized it could also be modified for military purposes.

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They are currently developing the suit for the federal Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which wants to replace the common, bulky hazard suits that can only be worn safely for an hour.

The so-called “nanomaterial” designed by Fornasiero allows sweat and air to pass through, but not the larger biological agents used in warfare, like anthrax.

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