Scientists at BAE Systems in the UK are working on a new type of body armor that uses shear thickening fluids in combination with traditional Kevlar to create lighter, more flexible body armor. The shear thickening fluids act like a liquid under normal conditions, but harden instantly on impact, forming a rigid shield. Basically, like this.
The BAE scientists describe it as “bullet-proof custard”.
“It’s very similar to custard in the sense that the molecules lock together when it’s struck,” explained Stewart Penny, business development manager in charge of materials development at the company.
Shear-thickening liquids are not new to military research. The US Army Research Laboratories has carried out tests using similar liquids.
But, according to BAE, these latest tests provide the first clear evidence that liquid armour could effectively protect soldiers from bullets or shrapnel.
They say the liquid could ultimately be used to make much lighter, more flexible and more effective bullet-proof vests for soldiers.
“In standard bullet-proof vests, we use thick, heavy, layered plates of Kevlar that restrict movement and contribute to fatigue,” said Mr Penny.