Scientists at UT Dallas have created a new nanofiber which makes use of its electromechanical properties to absorb energy.
The new fiber is bullet-proof, tougher than kevlar, and capable of stretching 7 times its original length!
Just how much stronger is this new material than kevlar?
Well, the new nanofiber can can handle up to 98 joules per gram before it severs/breaks, versus kevlar, which can only withstand up to 80 joules per gram before fracturing.
For this reason, the bullet-proof nanofiber is being discussed for potential applications in military vehicles and body armor.
Researchers focused on mimicking the piezoelectric action (how pressure forms electric charges) of collagen fibers found inside bone in hopes of creating high-performance materials that can reinforce itself, said Dr. Majid Minary, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and senior author of the study.
“We reproduced this process in nanofibers by manipulating the creation of electric charges to result in a lightweight, flexible, yet strong material,” said Minary, who is also a member of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. “Our country needs such materials on a large scale for industrial and defense applications.”
For their experiment, researchers first spun nanofibers out of a material known as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and its co-polymer, polyvinvylidene fluoride trifluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE).
The electricity generated by stretching the twisted nanofiber formed an attraction 10 times stronger than a hydrogen bond!
“Our experiment is proof of the concept that our structures can absorb more energy before failure than the materials conventionally used in bulletproof armors,” Minary said. “We believe, modeled after the human bone, that this flexibility and strength comes from the electricity that occurs when these nanofibers are twisted.”
Moving forward, the main goal is to figure out how to produce the nanofiber on a larger scale, effectively creating the body armor of the future.
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