Body armor has evolved quite a lot throughout human history. Leather and metal were traditionally the two primary components for most of our early years, with the type and design of the metal changing based on the technological capabilities of the people at the time. Since then, armor has had to evolve to protect against more modern weapons like guns and explosives, Kevlar being the most popular option. However, it looks like body armor is evolving yet again, and this time its a liquid.
The future is here – scientists at a Polish company have developed a liquid body armor. Technically speaking, it’s a non-Newtonian shear-thickening fluid (STF) that is lighter than current body armor materials, and might resists the impact better than Kevlar. Newtonian fluids (like water for example) don’t change their properties depending on external stress or shear. For non-Newtonian fluids (for example a mixture of starch and water), the viscosity depends on the shear applied to it. In the STF technology they’ve developed, the material becomes much more viscous as a specific type of pressure is applied – say, a bullet. “This viscosity increases thanks to the subordination of the particles in the liquid structure, therefore they form a barrier against an external penetrating factor,” said Karolina Olszewska, who performed tests on the STF for Moratex, the company that developed the armor.