Thursday, June 22, 2006
sciencecentral.com reports: (edited)
Shear thickening fluid is a mixture of hard nanoparticles and non-evaporating liquid. It flows normally under low-energy conditions, but when agitated or hit with an impact it stiffens and behaves like a solid. This temporary stiffening occurs less than a millisecond after impact, and is caused by the nanoparticles forming tiny clusters inside the fluid. The particles jam up forming a log jam structure that prevents things from penetrating through them.
When a material (such as Kevlar) is treated with this liquid, the energy of an impact is distributed over a much larger surface area. Ballistic tests have demonstrated that the treatment can prevent bullets from penetrating the material.
Treated Kevlar is also effective at resisting sharp projectiles, such as knife stabs or shrapnel from roadside bombs. The material remains light and flexible allowing it to protect the whole body.
U.S. manufacturer Armor Holdings recently licensed the technology and plans to release its first products by the end of the year, however there are civilian applications as well – think about skateboard pads, motorcycle clothing and making tyres puncture-proof.
Thanks to Gareth for the link.