Israeli scientists have recently developed an innovative new material able to withstand bullets and knife attacks that could revolutionize body armor technology.
Inspired by the scaly skin of fish, researchers from the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology designed a hybrid double-layered material that provides protection against penetration while preserving flexibility.
“The secret behind this material is in the combination and design of hard scales above with soft, flexible tissue below,” lead researcher Assistant Professor Stephan Rudykh told American Technion Society — a university-affiliated website — last month.
While strength and flexibility are generally competing properties, Rudykh said that his team found that by varying the angle in which the scales are arranged, it was possible to increase their resistance to penetration by up to 40 times, while the flexibility of the material only decreased by 5 times.
Researchers used a 3D printer to create the hard, outer surface out of acrylic-based plastic scales positioned at varying angles between 10 and 45 degrees. Afterwards, the outer layer was attached over a softer material, meant to mimic the flexibility of skin.
Rudykh hopes that by using 3D printing, body armor made from the material could be customized for body type or fined-tuned for different scenarios. In addition to making bulletproof clothing for the military, the material could be used to protect space-walking astronauts from radiation and micro-meteors.
The project was carried out together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A paper outlining the properties of the new material was published in the online journal Soft Matter on February 20.
The researchers have conducted initial testing on the material, and are said to be moving on to the dynamic tests using fast-moving projectiles, including bullets.