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

By Boonsri Dickinson | March 3, 2009 12:32 pm

kevlarKevlar 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.)

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Image: flickr/ The Ratt

MORE ABOUT: innovation, military, war
  • http://www.brianlang.ca Brian Lang

    This reminds me of the Energy Shield used by the Go’auld in Stargate SG-1. That shield was capable of stopping fast moving projectiles (bullets) but not slower moving thrown objects (knives).

  • Jason Heldenbrand

    Pretty common sci-fi theme, Brian. The shields in Dune follow the same line. It’s a clever way to keep melee combat a practical thing in the future. More dramatic I suppose. ;)

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/ Uncle Al

    Hydrogen-bonded dilatant systems (e.g., cornstarch in water) can be defeated by detergents, and disruptive or capping agents. High temp can do it. A bullet cored with a uranium penetrator rod should be tested, ditto one that shoots a jet of dishwashing liquid. Seed the armor, then go in for the kill with a second volley.

  • SUDHIR RAGHUBIR

    hey this is great stuff!!

    novel,new……

    heavy?? possibly.

    bullet proof??against what bullet??

    the stuff soldier’s face in a battlefield / is 7.62MM and 5.56mm…the kinetic impact energy is so enormous..that the gel will/may stop the bullet…BUT THE ENERGY ON IMPACT,AFTER ‘ABSORPTION”…(IT HAS TO ABSORB SOMEWHERE!!) SNAPS YOUR NECK LIKE A DRY TWIG!!

    SO YOU’LL HAVE INTACT HEADS AND BROKEN NECKS..TAKE UR PICK,ARMY!

  • Egaeus

    Well, according to Newton, the force imparted on the shooter is the same as the shootee. That means that if someone shoots one of these newfangled “7.62mm” or “5.56mm” bullets, then all the soldiers who shoot the guns will have their necks broken! Quick! Someone tell the Army before it’s too late!

  • Sphinx

    @ Egaeus

    Well, yes. But most of that energy is absorbed by whatever it is mounted on since big guns are mounted you know.

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  • thinker

    hmm if we can use this gel to stop bullets wats stopping us to making into a bullet imagine after entering the body and it doesnt move then it becomes gel again? hell of away to die

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