The future is here – scientists at a Polish company have developed a liquid body armor. Technically speaking, it’s a non-Newtonian shear-thickening fluid (STF) that is lighter than current body armor materials, and might resists the impact better than Kevlar.
Newtonian fluids (like water for example) don’t change their properties depending on external stress or shear. For non-Newtonian fluids (for example a mixture of starch and water), the viscosity depends on the shear applied to it. In the STF technology they’ve developed, the material becomes much more viscous as a specific type of pressure is applied – say, a bullet.
“This viscosity increases thanks to the subordination of the particles in the liquid structure, therefore they form a barrier against an external penetrating factor,” said Karolina Olszewska, who performed tests on the STF for Moratex, the company that developed the armor.
Basically, when a projectile reaches the armor, it strengthens automatically, spreading the force of impact over a much greater area, diverting it away from the wearer’s internal organs. Of course, the composition of the material haven’t been made public by the company, but they did share their ballistic tests, which proved amazing resistance to a wide range of projectiles.
“We needed to find, design a liquid that functions both with projectiles hitting at the velocity of 450 meters per second and higher. We have succeeded,” said Deputy Director for Research at the Moratex institute, Marcin Struszczyk.
Actually implementing it on body armor designs would require making pockets of this liquid at regular intervals and at specific indentations, but according to the company, this could easily work because they are also significantly lighter than Kevlar or other options available at the moment.
“The point is for them not to interfere, not change the way of movement, operation of such the product by the user, and at the same time increase their motor skills, increase effectiveness of their decision process and increase their possibilities during the mission at hand,” Struszczyk said.
But aside for military uses, this type of materials could have many other uses. If it can be made cheaply, it could also be used on car bumpers or road protective barriers, and even in sports.