05 March 2009 Mark Rutherford via cnet.com / BBC News
Orange Goo Goes Ballistic
Military to use "bullet-busting" shock-absorbent gel to save soldiers’ lives
Richard Palmer invented the D3O shock absorbing material that locks instantly into a
The British army is preparing to upgrade its standard-issue combat helmet by adding a viscous, orange gel liner designed to lock instantaneously into a solid shield when impacted by a bullet or shrapnel.
The goo, under development by Blue Divine, uses "intelligent molecules" to "shock lock" together when shot or stabbed, creating a solid pad to absorb energy (see video). The substance, called D30, returns to its "normal flexible state" after the pressure is removed.
Non-Newtonian fluids with shear dependent viscosity," like cornstarch mixed with water, are nothing new to the scientific community.
"When moved slowly, the molecules will slip past each other, but in a high-energy impact, they will snag and lock together, becoming solid," Blue Divine CEO Richard Palmer said in an interview. "In doing so, they absorb energy." He said that the material - a soft plastic polymer that turns solid if impacted - was already used by sportsmen and women, but could also be used by the military.
"The gel is already used in ski race suits, especially slalom skiers. Getting hit by the gates at 60 miles per hour is like being hit with a baton, so this provides them with some protection.
"We're working with the MoD to see if it could be used inside the lining of helmets. It won't stop a bullet, but used in conjunction with body armour, it could help save a soldier's life".
Richard Palmer, inventor of D30, will be speaking at the Institute of Nanotechnology textiles conference:
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