A shock-absorbing material for helmets has been developed, having the strength of metal and the weight of foam
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University (USA) are working on creating a new type of armor for police and military, which is based on an ultralight shock-absorbing material. It does not have its own name yet, it is an experimental development based on elastomers. Such liquid crystal polymers are already widely used in robotics to create artificial muscles.
The interest of scientists is caused by the extraordinary elasticity of elastomers, which allows them to absorb a large amount of energy without destruction. They created a structure of rows of rigid elements held together by strips of elastomers placed at an angle. This architecture allows the structure to shrink when receiving a load and straighten after.
The basic element was multiplied and a multi-layered “pie” was built, which was then subjected to tests. The shock absorber successfully withstood the impacts of projectiles weighing from 2 to 7 kg at speeds up to 35 km/ h without any damage. With an increase in the number of layers, the ability to withstand the load increases — the energy absorption density of a four-layer structure is twice as high as that of a single-layer one.
An additional bonus is the extremely low weight of the material, it is comparable to foam – that is, almost weightless. But at the same time, already in the current version, it is quite suitable for use as a lining for armor or, for example, as an additional protection for vehicle bumpers. Scientists have established contacts with a company that produces helmets for military, police and athletes, and these products will be the first commercial application of the novelty.