New liquid body armor hardens on impact

Dubbed 'bullet-proof custard,' the molecules lock together and thicken when pressure is applied


FastCompany.com

LONDON — Liquid, bullet-stopping body armor. Read that again: Liquid, bullet-stopping body armor. It's not sci-fi, it's real, and a team of U.K. scientists have proven it has a future in protecting soldiers from incoming rounds or shrapnel.

Liquid armor isn't a new idea, oddly enough: As well as being a sci-fi staple (Neal Stephenson's "sintered armor gel" from Snow Crash is a classic example) it's been researched for decades, mainly due to the benefits that a lightweight, flexible but super-strong armored material could offer. But the team from the U.K.'s BAE company has achieved a composite liquid armor solution that they say for the first time demonstrates real battlefield-ready benefits.

The effect relies on a wild and wacky piece of physics known as non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, that is, basically every fluid you've encountered on a day-to-day basis--one where the viscosity is constant. In other words, as you apply more sheer strain to the liquid, the more its sheer stress rises in a predictable way. Forgetting the physics, just think of it as a liquid that reacts pretty much how you'd expect it to.

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