Technology

A Life-Saving Slime? Military Has Eyes On Bullet-Proof Gel

DiscoblogBy Boonsri DickinsonMar 3, 2009 5:32 PM
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Kevlar is nice and all, but the next bullet-proof vest might be made of sticky goo. Colorado researchers are using specialized gels to fix knee injuries (and pretty much the rest of the human body). But a chemical engineering company called d3O lab has created the mightiest gel of all—one so strong that when an external force, such as a fist or the ground, hits it, the gel turns into a shock-absorbing material that hardens and soaks up the entire impact. While the company has been testing the gel in sports equipment for athletes, the Ministry of Defense thinks the new goo may be capable of stopping bullets, so they’ve forked over $150,000 for testing. The secret to how the gel works rests in chemistry (not magic), as inventor Richard Palmer explained to the Telegraph: "When moved slowly, the molecules will slip past each other, but in a high-energy impact they will snag and lock together, becoming solid." So in this case, when a bullet hits the gel's molecules, they bond together to form an “impenetrable” wall against bullets or shrapnel. But the solid state is only temporary—after the molecules absorb the shock and the impact stops, the gel becomes a gel again. This gooey substance is pretty amazing stuff, and could have many uses, including absorbing the impact of a somersault—good news for amateur gymnasts everywhere. (Watch an animated demonstration here.) Related Content: Discoblog: Newspaper Gel Discover: Singing Sand Discover: Make Rain Go Away

Image: flickr/ The Ratt

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