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July 21st, 2006
A new "liquid armor" could be the solution for protecting the parts of the body that aren't currently covered by standard-issue ballistic vests – arms and legs, where many of these devastating and life-threatening injuries occur. Co-developed by two research teams – one led by Norman Wagner at the University of Delaware, and the other led by Eric Wetzel at the U.S. Army Research Lab in Aberdeen, MD – the liquid technology will soon lead to light, flexible full-body armor.
The liquid - called shear thickening fluid is actually a mixture of hard nanoparticles and nonevaporating liquid. It flows normally under low-energy conditions, but when agitated or hit with an impact it stiffens and behaves like a solid. This temporary stiffening occurs less than a millisecond after impact, and is caused by the nanoparticles forming tiny clusters inside the fluid.
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