This nanoarchitectured material absorbs supersonic impacts

This structure made of carbon tetrakaidecahedra is twice as strong as steel, and could find its place in bulletproof vests or other types of armor.

A set of engineers from WITH and you Caltech from ETH Zurich have developed a new nanoarchitectured material that is even more effective than Kevlar to stop a projectile, which looks very promising in the context of bulletproof vests, explosion shields, etc.

For this, they designed a structure composed of tetrakaidecahedra in carbon. This barbaric name designates a polyhedron with 14 faces. This number might seem roughly random, but it is not. The idea is not new; in fact, it was already proposed as early as 1887 by Lord Kelvin, to whom we owe the notion of absolute zero. According to his estimates which turned out to be correct, this is one of the most optimal ways to fill a space with identical structures.

Foolproof resistance

They then bombarded it with tiny cannonballs 14 µm in diameter, propelled up to 1100 m / s. This is more than three times the speed of sound in air, and roughly the speed of a modern rifle bullet.

© MIT / Caltech

On impact, not only did the material survive, but it demonstrated extraordinary absorption capacities. It would be 100% stronger than steel, and 70% stronger than Kevlar. When you take a closer look, the result is impressive. Instead of tearing the carbon network, the projectile stopped dead: it is found embedded in the upper layers of the material.

© MIT / Caltech

All this thanks to the nano-arrangement of this material. Instead of being friable as usual, this assembly gives the carbon strangely flexible and rubbery properties, very useful for distributing kinetic energy as much as possible, and preventing it from being entirely pulverized.

Maybe one of the shockproof materials of tomorrow

Extremely important, when we know that this material could one day be used in protective equipment. After all, the last thing you can wish for a minesweeper, police or military, is to be injured by a shrapnel from your own armor!

According to Carlos Portela, who heads the research team, the next step will be to explore the properties of other nanomaterials under these conditions. We will also have to find a way to produce it on an industrial scale. Because this material could well be used as a basis for flexible materials, but ultra-resistant, able to supplant Kevlar. But also other materials, wherever it is necessary to absorb extremely violent and localized shocks.


Source: Journal du Geek by www.journaldugeek.com.

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