Liquid Armor With Shear Thickening Fluid

Liquid armor created from Kevlar ballistic fabric soaked in a shear thickening fluid will be offered as products by Armor Holdings by the end of this year. The basic principles should be familiar to Technovelgy readers; the research for the product was detailed in Liquid Armor In Two Flavors: Shear Thickening and Magnetorheological two years ago.


(Liquid Armor: Kevlar soaked in shear thickening fluid)

Shear thickening fluids have been known for many years; cornstarch and water can be used to demonstrate the basic principle. Under unstressed conditions, it flows slowly like a viscous liquid; when struck, it hardens in a millisecond. They are also called "dilatant" fluids.

The thickening of the fluid spreads the force of impact over a wider area; it can prevent a bullet, knife point or bomb fragment from penetrating.

According to Norman Wagner, who with Eric Wetzel lead the teams that developed liquid armor, the nanoparticle-based liquid is "intercalated" with the Kevlar fibers; it's not just a vest soaked in fluid. The treatment has the effect of preventing the fibers from spreading apart upon impact. Armor Holdings acquired the patent rights to liquid armor materials last February.

Wagner provided some insight in discussing the research in an earlier interview in 2004:

"We would first like to put this material in a soldier's sleeves and pants, areas that aren't protected by ballistic vests but need to remain flexible. We could also use this material for bomb blankets, to cover suspicious packages or unexploded ordnance. Liquid armor could even be applied to jump boots, so that they would stiffen during impact to support Soldiers' ankles."

The concept of liquid armor, armor that was flexible when necessary but which turns rigid upon impact, was explored by science fiction writers long before its appearance as a product.

In his 1968 novel Neutron Star, writer Larry Niven thought of flexible armor suits:

He was weaponless, but his suit was a kind of defense. No projectile short of a fast meteorite could harm him. Like a silicone plastic, the pressure suit was soft and malleable under gentle pressures, such as walking, but instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...
(Read more about Larry Niven's flexible armor suit)

A more recent reference from sf author Neal Stephenson, from his 1992 novel Snow Crash provides insight into the practical use of such a product, as well as a cool (and trademarkable) name:

Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel; feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books.
(Read more about sintered armorgel)

Read more about shear thickening fluids; take a look at the reader comments from the previous article. For more shear thickening fun, take a look at Skiers Get d3o-Based 'Impact Suits'. See also Body Armor Fit for a Superhero from Business Week for a different perspective; despite the obvious military applications, Armor Holdings will probably first introduce Liquid Armor as a product for prison guards.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/2/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )

Related News Stories - (" Armor ")

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.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

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

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.