Current bullet-proof body armor tends to be bulky and heavy, slowing down users and impeding their movement. This may no longer be the case though, as research by The City University of New York may revolutionize how we protect ourselves from bullets. In a research project led by Professor Elisa Riedo, her team has determined that two layers of stacked graphene can harden like a diamond upon impact.
Graphene is a substance made of carbon atoms that are stitched together in a honeycomb-like pattern. With each layer being one atom thick, graphene has been touted as a next-generation super material that will make its way into everything from LED lights to batteries. It’s also currently the world’s strongest known material.
The new graphene-based material developed by Professor Riedo’s team has been dubbed “diamene”, and is made up of only two sheets of graphene layers over a silicon carbide substrate. This allows the material to be as light and flexible as foil in its natural state, allowing it to be integrated into a number of devices and materials. However, when the diameter is subjected to sudden mechanical pressure, it temporarily becomes harder than diamond.
Interestingly enough, this diamond-like hardness only seems to work when two sheets of graphene are used. Using one or even three means that the material won’t harden, and its protective properties are lost. This said experiments at Rice University have had success stopping micro bullets using graphene that’s stacked 300 layers thick.
When and if this material makes it out of the lab, we could see a revolution in protective material. Other than its potential to make lightweight bulletproof armor, we could also see it make lightweight protective gear for a variety of sports. You can read their study via Nature Nanotechnology.
Images: University College London, City University of New York, Wikimedia
Source: New Atlas