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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Polycarbon Exo  
  Exoskeleton made of a strong, lightweight material.  

In this case, "exo" is short for exoskeleton, a powered suit that provides added strength. Since this is a William Gibson work, I'm betting that this is no clumsy robotic "Transformers" style device; it is probably a great-looking suit. Note also that carbon fibers are long and strong; but then, so is chitin, the main structural ingredient in arthropod exoskeletons.

She could hear their voices, from where she sat in living room, their laughter. One of the assistants was a girl in a blue polycarbon exo that allowed her to carry the Hermes wardrobe cases as though they were weightless blocks of foam, the humming skeleton suit padding softly down the stairs on its blunt dinosaur feet. Blue skeleton, leather coffins.

Now Porphyre stood in the doorway. "Missy ready?" He wore a long, loose coat cut from tissue thin black leather; rhinestone spurs glittering above the heels of black patent boots.

From Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.
Published by Bantam in 1988
Additional resources -

The notion of an exoskeleton is derived from biology; many of the world's creatures have no backbone, but use a hard outer shell. It is an elegant solution, since it combines protection with the same structural purpose of bones.

The idea of an exoskeleton has been used before in science fiction; for example, the soldiers in Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers achieve parity with the insect race they fight by using military exoskeletons (see powered suit).

Why do we assume that an exoskeleton will make you stronger? It is true that some arthropods can carry up to 50 times their body weight. Also, having muscles inside an external skeleton is more efficient. However, most of the advantage comes from the fact that they are small; their muscle weight is low compared to muscle surface area.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Mona Lisa Overdrive
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to Mona Lisa Overdrive
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

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