Bullet-Proof Goo

New material takes aim at lightweighting bulletproof armor.

 

Bullet-stopping goo. Sounds far fetched, but it’s actually a thing, according to an article in Business Insider. As part of her chemistry class, an Air Force Academy cadet and her professor have developed a new material—the cadet describes it like Oobleck of Dr. Suess fame—that can be used to enhance existing body armor and more specifically, stop a bullet without shattering.

Using carbon fiber, Kevlar, and a thickening fluid, the cadet and her professor devised a “non-Newtonian fluid,” which thickens when force is applied. It almost sounds like a cooking project—they used a KitchenAid mixer and plastic utensils as part of their toolkit and they packed the stuff up in vaccum-sealed bags and cut it into quarter-inch layers much like you might do with brownies.

After a little more than a year and 20 iterations, the pair was ready to put their material to the test. Nine millimeter rounds crushed most of the material’s layers, but were eventually trapped in the fiber backing. The .40 caliber round was stopped by the third layer, and the .44 Magnum round went no further than the first layer, the Business Insider article said. Because the material was able to stop the .44 Magnum, it's possible to get it certified as a type 3 body armor, which is what Air Force security personnel are required to wear.

The material could help the US Army and Marine Corp lighten the body armor used by military personnel, which currently weighs about 27 pounds on average, and adds to their existing load.

We're talking about some serious goo.

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