Boron-carbide-tshirts

Well, sort of…

A Kit Up reader sent along this fascinating article about research being done at the University of South Carolina on creating fabrics with nano structures that could increase ballistic resistance.

Check this out…

Researchers at the University of South Carolina, collaborating with others from China and Switzerland, drastically increased the toughness of a T-shirt by combining the carbon in the shirt’s cotton with boron – the third hardest material on earth. The result is a lightweight shirt reinforced with boron carbide, the same material used to protect tanks.

The scientists started with plain, white T-shirts that were cut into thin strips and dipped into a boron solution. The strips were later removed from the solution and heated in an oven. The heat changes the cotton fibers into , which react with the boron solution and produce boron carbide.

The result is a fabric that’s lightweight but tougher and stiffer than the original T-shirt, yet flexible enough that it can be bent, said Li, who led the group from USC. That flexibility is an improvement over the heavy boron-carbide plates used in bulletproof vests and body armor.

I wrote about this kind of potential for carbon nanomaterials over at Defense Tech a couple years ago. My great friend and body armor innovator David Woroner quipped that nanoscience would eventually lead to a tank that you could lift with your hand.

Of course, that's a long way off, but if manufacturing could catch up with the science, that's possible.

The cool thing about this B4C-infused T-shirt material is its potential application for flexible armor systems. Now, the story doesn't say anything about ballistic resistance, but you could see how maybe sandwiching some of this material together could yield a flexible plate.

Hat tip to CF for the gouge…

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