An electron-microscope image shows a cross-section of a layered polymer and the crater left by a glass bead in an edge-on impact (Photo: Thomas Lab, Rice University)
Edwin Thomas, left, and Jae-Hwang Lee holding a polymer material containing three bullets (Photo: Tommy LaVergne, Rice University)
Scientists have theorized that paper-thin composite nanomaterials could stop bullets just as effectively as heavy weight body armor, but progress has been hampered by their inability to reliably test such materials against projectile impacts. Researchers at MIT and Rice University have developed a breakthrough stress-test that fires microscopic glass beads at impact-absorbing material. Although the projectiles are much smaller than a bullet, the experimental results could be scaled up to predict how the material would stand up to larger impacts.
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