Lightweight ballistic material created to protect against bullets and explosions at the same time.

Lightweight ballistic material created to protect against bullets and explosions at the same time.

Researchers have developed a new fiber for body armor, which is able to stop bullets, shrapnel, splinters and withstand extremely high temperatures, without limiting the mobility of a soldier.

Since the end of World War I, more soldiers have died from explosions in battles than from bullets. Current materials protect well either from ballistic threats or from thermal effects, so the equipment usually consists of several layers, which makes it heavy and makes movement difficult.

A team of scientists from Harvard University, in collaboration with the US Army and West Point, has developed a new multifunctional nanofiber material that simultaneously provides reliable mechanical protection and high thermal insulation properties.

The researchers managed to achieve this by creating a porous aramid fiber (Kevlar polymer) with an ordered molecular structure, which allows it to effectively withstand and distribute direct impact energy and limit heat diffusion.

For the manufacture of a new material used immersion rotating jet spinning. This method involves placing a liquid polymer solution in a tank and then pushing it through a tiny hole under the action of centrifugal force.

When the solution flew out of the tank, it first passed through the air, where the polymers lengthened and leveled, and then entered the bathroom with liquid to remove the solvent, precipitate the polymers and cure the fibers. Since the bath also rotated, the nanofibers, following the vortex flow, were wrapped around the collector at the base of the device.

During the tests, a porous nanofiber was placed between sheets of woven aramid and they stopped armor-piercing shells in much the same way as a stack of sheets of aramid. At the same time, the new material provided 20 times more thermal insulation than commercial Kevlar or Aramid.

, Harvard SEAS

Lightweight ballistic material created to protect against bullets and explosions at the same time.

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