A team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University has created a foam-like shock-absorbing material but it protects like a metal. This new material could prove to be a game-changer for parts of vehicles, aircraft, and protective gear like helmets, Armor.
The stronger and reusable material offers more protection from a wide range of impacts. Since the material is lighter, it also could reduce the fuel consumption of vehicles
How is this material special?
The key to the new material is Liquid crystal elastomers (LCE). LCEs are a network of elastic polymers in a liquid crystalline phase, offering a combination of elasticity and stability. These are mainly used to make actuators and artificial muscles for robotics.
The researchers added strength to the LCEs while reducing their weight to increase the shock-absorbing material’s ability to withstand the impact.
The material was tested for its ability to withstand the impacts of different masses at different speeds. The material was struck by objects weighing about four to 15 pounds, coming at speeds of up to about 22 miles per hour, it held up against the impacts.
The tests were limited to 22mph due to the limits of testing machines, but the researchers are confident that the material could safely absorb greater impacts at higher speeds as well.
The first commercial use of this material will be for helmets. The research team is collaborating with a helmet company to produce next-generation helmets for athletes and the military.