High-tech polymer can stop a speeding bullet in its tracks

By | January 21, 2018

Scientists at Rice University in Texas have discovered a new super polymer material that is stronger than a speeding bullet.

The dynamic new compound is able to stop 9mm slugs – a common pistol and sub-machinegun round – in their tracks and seal the holes behind them.

The remarkable polymer could revolutionize bulletproof vests for soldiers and police officers, as well as make lightweight, durable aircraft skins and jet engine blades.

The material is a complex multiblock copolymer polyurethanem, which is a synthetic compound build in the lab.

Ned Thomas, the dean of the George R Brown School of Engineering at Rice, has been pictured holding up a hockey puck-sized disk of the polymer that still contained the bullets that had been fired into it.

The polymer has actually arrested the bullet and sealed it,’ he said in a statement from the university.

‘There’s no macroscopic damage; the material hasn’t failed; it hasn’t cracked. You can still see through it. This would be a great ballistic windshield material.’

How, exactly, the material worked was a mystery to researchers.

Bend, but not break: This electron microscope slide of the polymer after it was impacted by a projectile show that the layers contorted in the impact, but remained intact

It seemed to have both glassy properties, which made it strong and hard, as well as rubbery properties, which made it resilient and able to bend and repair itself.

By conducting similar ‘gunshot tests’ at a microscopic level, the scientists found that the polymer actually liquified when it came in contact with high velocity penetration.

However, because the polymer is actually comprised of thousands of barely-perceptible layers, only some of the material liquified, while the rest held its shape and strength.

That means the material is sturdy without being brittle. It absorb shock without breaking or bending.  …