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A possible next generation material for combat soldiers’ uniforms

A research team has developed a revolutionary material that has superior anti-penetration properties while remaining flexible. Inspired by the way nature designed fish scales, the material could be used to make bulletproof clothing for the military, as well as space suits that are impervious to micro-meteorites and radiation when astronauts embark on spacewalks.

The joint research was conducted at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, in collaboration with MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Home Land Security News Wire quotes Assistant Professor Stephan Rudykh, head of the Technion’s Mechanics of Soft Materials Laboratory. “Many species of fish are flexible, but they are also protected by hard scales,” said Rudykh. “The secret behind this material is in the combination and design of hard scales above with soft, flexible tissue below. Taking inspiration from nature, we [combined] two layers of materials — one soft for flexibility and the other with armor-like scales.”

Normally, explained Rudykh, strength and flexibility are competing properties. You cannot have both. Here, however, the research team has found a way to increase the penetration resistance by a factor of 40, while the reducing the flexibility of the soft material by a factor of merely five. If the material is being used, as an example, for a combat uniform, more flexibility can be built into the areas where flexibility is needed, such as the elbows and knees, while anti-penetration properties can be beefed-up elsewhere, such as in the upper body areas.