Liquid Armor In Two Flavors: Shear Thickening and Magnetorheological
Liquid armor using shear thickening fluid (STF) is being developed at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. The STF referred to in this article is made up of hard silica particles suspended in polyethylene glycol, a non-toxic fluid. Kevlar fiber vests soaked with STF are pliable under normal conditions:
"During normal handling, the [fluid] is very deformable and flows like a liquid. However, once a bullet or frag hits the vest, it transitions to a rigid material, which prevents the projectile from penetrating the Soldier's body," said Dr. Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer from the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate who heads the project team.
(From Army Creates Liquid Armor)
Liquid armor could be used in bomb blankets, and even jump boots, which could be made to stiffen upon impact to support the ankle.
(From Army scientists develop liquid body armor)
"Shear thickening" fluids (also called "dilatant" fluids) have unusual (that is, non-Newtonian) behavior in response to a shearing force. Their viscosities increase or decrease as the applied shearing stress changes. Cornstarch and water form a shear thickening fluid; when poked hard with a finger, the mixture reacts as a solid. However, if you place a "cube" of it on a table, it slowly flows into a puddle.
Not to be outdone, MIT has been working on a form of liquid armor that uses a class of fluids called magnetorheological fluids. They are made up of nanoparticles of iron in a thick oil or syrup suspension. When a magnetic field is applied, the iron particles align and the fluid becomes extremely stiff. The degree of stiffness varies depending on the strength of the field applied. It would be possible to wear comfortable, flexible armor that would become rigid at the flick of a switch.
(Fluid aligned to magnet [bottom left], from Instant Armor)
Update: Take a look at these recent stories:
See a science fictional take on this subject in an excerpt from an early Larry Niven story; the flexible armor suit is the earliest reference I can find in sf. See also the article on AKROD v2 knee rehabilitation device, which uses a similar fluid.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/26/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 40 )
Related News Stories -
Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton
'... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...' - Larry Niven, 1966.
DIY Taser-Proof Clothing
'His suit-shield sucked in the energy and discharged it...'- Philip K. Dick, 1954.
Look Great In Your Garrison Bespoke Bulletproof Suit
'McKie longed for his armored clothing…'- Frank Herbert, 1977.
Bionic Body Armor Makes You Dodge Bullets
Fascinating patent idea by IBM turns everyone - yes, everyone - into a bullet-dodging Neo.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).
Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'
Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'
Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'
Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'
The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'
Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'
Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'
Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'
Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'
NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'
Moving Suns To Different Galactic Neighborhoods
'...to swerve their star from its course, the globemen made use of a simple physical principle.'
Students Surveilled By School Phone Apps
Cheer up, students. '...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.'
Massage Robot Has Soft Hands, Er, Pads
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently over my naked form.'
Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'
Elon Musk's Traffic Tunnel Challenge Is Boring
'The car vibrated... threading the maze of local tubes.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories