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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )
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.
Nobe 3-Wheel Electric Vehicle Parking Like I, Robot
Spidercar, Spidercar, does whatever a spidercar does.
Michelin Self-Sealing Tires On Ford's Explorer
'...a seal of compressed plastifoam to save the air.'
Mushroom Eats Plastic, Saves Planet
Fungus Amongus, SaveUs!
Juggalo Face Paint Disrupts Facial Recognition
'... designed to foil facial recognition systems.'
Mojipic Smart Voice Vehicle Emojis
KITT, what's your response?
Unusual Twist On Woman Dates Robot
'My hearing, vision and awareness went along with that excellent imitation of a young Adonis...'
BrainNet Triple Telepathic Gaming Threat
'In the gloomy half-darkness the three idiots sat babbling.'
AVAS Noisemakers Required For EVs By EU
'...a sound tape to supply the noise of a soi-disant "[internal combustion]" engine...'
Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...'
Blood Battery Robotic Fish
'With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.'
Lightyear One Solar-Powered Electric Car (Design By Heinlein)
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
'Agression Detectors' Don't Work When Spying On Students
'The professional agitators had also learned how to modulate their voices below the danger level...'
Mining Of Golden Asteroid Foretold In 1898 Science Fiction
'This must be a golden planet—this little asteroid.'
Miners! NASA Wants To License RASSOR Excavator
'The borers had been dismantled and packed away.'
Bee+ Robobee Now With Four Wings
'It was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length...'
CNSILK Robotic Spider Builder
'We could certainly spin a web right through the Solar System, if we can think of a good use for one.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories