My first question would be, what absorbs the shock of impact? Blunt force trauma is still a problem with soft armor*; even if the projectile doesn't penetrate, the energy must go somewhere--other than into the body, ideally.Solomon Kane said:
So what they're saying is that use of Kevlar plates wouldn't be needed, and it may or may not absorb blunt impact better due to the high elastic energy storage capacity of carbon nanotubes. I believe the video of Caballero mention still using Kevlar inserts, so I think it's a different animal.Bullets harmlessly bouncing off nanotechnology T-shirts
(Nanowerk Spotlight) Granted, they don't sell them at Gap yet, but if current research undertaken by scientists in Australia is any indication, bullet-proof vests as light as T-shirts could become reality in the not too-distant future. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have great potential applications in making ballistic-resistance materials. The remarkable properties of CNTs makes them an ideal candidate for reinforcing polymers and other materials, and could lead to applications such as ligh-weight bullet-proof vests or shields for military vehicles and spacecraft. For these applications, thinner, lighter, and more flexible materials with superior dynamic mechanical properties are required than what is currently available. Ongoing research at the University of Sydney explores the energy absorption capacity of single-walled carbon nanotubes under a ballistic impact. CNT reinforced materials might not only be very effective in stopping ballistic penetration or high speed impact, like Kevlar vests, but they might also be able to prevent the blunt force trauma that still is a problem with today's body armor.
"When a bullet strikes body armor, the fibers of these materials absorb and disperse the impact energy to successive layers to prevent the bullet from penetrating" Dr. Liangchi Zhang explains to Nanowerk. "However, the dissipating forces can still cause non-penetrating injuries which is known as blunt force trauma. Even when the bullet is stopped by the fabric, the impact and the resulting trauma would leave a severe bruise and, at worst, damage critical organs. Hence the best material for body armor should have a high level of elastic storage energy that will cause the bullet to bounce off or be deflected."
A quick look at wiki tells me that 320 Joules is fairly anemic, so that makes wonder how thick a shirt crafted from the carbon nanotubes would theoretically have to be to actually be of use.Taking their assumptions, the researchers estimate that a 600 micrometer thick body armor woven from six layers of CNT yarn - the same thickness as a very fine T-shirt - is sufficient to bounce off a .358 inch revolver bullet with a muzzle energy of 320 Joules.
Zhang also found that nanotubes have an excellent resistance to repeated ballistic impacts, which is essential for body armor.
Compared with Zhang's previous study from last year, this is a step towards the application of the dynamics properties of CNTs. Zhang points out, though, that there is much work ahead, though, e.g., uncertainties in terms of the scale effect and the availability of sensitive techniques for making such fabric materials.