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The Military Science

Building Better Body Armor With Nanofoams 74

Zothecula writes "Given that scientists are already looking to sea sponges as an inspiration for body armor, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that foam is also being considered ... not just any foam, though. Unlike regular foam, specially-designed nanofoams could someday not only be used in body armor, but also to protect buildings from explosions."
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Building Better Body Armor With Nanofoams

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  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by telchine ( 719345 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:47AM (#43301033)

    Nanotechnology... the next big thing.

    I'll get my coat

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:42AM (#43301449) Journal

      Nanotechnology... the next big thing.

      I'll get my coat

      It sure does make for annoying headlines; but 'nanotechnology' is sort of a concept that is doomed by nature to be spread vacuously thin across all sorts of things, both incremental advances and more remarkable stuff.

      There probably a material in existence whose bulk properties don't derive from its structure at a fine scale, so the entire history of fields like metallurgy is 'nanotechnology' in a weak sense. On the other hand, though, most of that history, even to the present for economically viable bulk production, is largely messing around with heating and cooling parameters, and throwing various trace impurities into the mix, and then hoping really hard that the right nanoscale structures self-assemble.

      The real problem is deciding where to draw the line between 'yeah, it's "nanotech" in the vacuous sense that all materials engineering is' and 'actually "nanotech" in some sense that makes it worthy of the title'...

      • I just want to know when I can replace my riding outfit [] with something that's armored everywhere. The CE armor available only protects critical portions of the body. (kidneys, spleen, elbows, shoulders, basically) I want memory foam that protects everywhere!!

      • re: but 'nanotechnology' is sort of a concept that is doomed by nature to be spread vacuously thin across all sorts of things
        But being nanotechnology, by definition it will have to be able to spread wide and be just a nanometer high/thick, (right?), so that means "vacuously thin" == "less than one nanometer thickness".
        Nanotechnology ought to be when the designing and engineering aspects are actually performed at the nano-scale level, not by standards procedures such as metallurgy and making carbon
        • "buckminsterfullerenes filled with a bonus atom" be able to count as truly designed and engineered nanotechnology?
          They do. Just count the existing companies into nanotech. Most of them simply create nano particles, mainly for surface treatment of tools or windows and siilar things.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this in anticipation of a continuing successful american foreign policy or local political unrest. Either way I don't think nanofoams are going to save the day.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

      I'm not American so far be it for me to tell you how to be American.

      However there was a T shirt post 9/11 that said "I hope Allah has kevlar" that I feel summed up the sort of can do, batshit insane attitude we expect from Americans and from America.

      You guys needs to be be Batman not Commissioner Gordon. We have loads of Commissioner Gordons that work within the rules with all the compromises that implies. Some problems need a rich psycho with an inflexible sense of morality and a load of gadgets.

      And in an

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wrong superhero.

        That's the sort of ``anything goes'' attitude which results in the C.I.A. kidnapping people for ``enhanced interrogation''.

        We need Captain America (or Superman if one wishes to stick w/ DC Comics). America needs to unambiguously be seen as the good guys, w/ no uncertainty as to our moral compass. If a thing isn't something one would want one's grandparents reading about in the newspapers, then it ought not be done. The first thing which needs to happen on that front is the C.I.A. needs to go

        • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

          Spot the fuck on.

          I was agast when Secretarty of state Clinton said that doctor should be freed. What that man did would have been highly illegal here in the US, where we have specific patient medical records laws that specifically defend our right to privacy. It is disgusting that she would encourage and defend the violation of that right anywhere, for any reason. If anything, she should commend pakistan for punishing grievous violations of patient medical privacy rights.

          Its sad when people in developing co

          • by sanman2 ( 928866 )

            You can fuck right off. That doctor was a hero for helping to track down Bin Laden, and the govt which punished him were assholes for giving sanctuary to Bin Laden, as well as countless other terrorists.

            As an Indian, I'm really fed up with the RACIST WHITE LEFT who have decided to defend all things related to Islamic Terrorism - whether it's Bin Laden, AlQaeda, Taliban, or any other murderous jihadist. All you bastards do is smirk when these predators from Pakistan kill people in countries nextdoor. The sam

            • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

              I wasn't aware that patient medical data privacy and the international reputation of doctors and aid workers was a racist issue. So its racism not to say that we Americans should treat others the way that we insist that we be treated? Its racism to suggest that people in Pakistan deserve every bit as much honest medical care which respects their privacy and dignity in the same way that we here are supposed to get it?

              Bottom line, what he did would have been a serious crime here in the US. Suggesting that we

              • by sanman2 ( 928866 )

                Nope, the willful harboring and cultivation of terrorists is the main issue, and cannot be eclipsed by a mere use of a vaccination program to get those terrorists. The fact is that the blame for all of that should go onto those who have cultivated the terrorists as a weapon of war in the first place, since no counter-actions would have to be done if the perps hadn't perpetrated to begin with.

                WHITE LEFTIES should not be reasoned with, and only have their faces bashed in, since they're just smirking on the in

        • One of the most reprehensible things which the C.I.A. ever did was use the sham of vaccinations which were used to gather DNA so as to locate people related to Osama Bin Laden.

          If you made a list of the most evil things the CIA have done or will do it wouldn't even make the top 100. Still a world with the CIA is a world remarkably free of existential threats to the US. Al Qaeda is no USSR and the USSR was not a threat in the way the Axis was.

          The US basically has a policy of picking a bête noir and then stomping it at all costs. And it's pretty obvious that doing so leads to a gradual weakening of bête noir n+1 compared to bête noir n.

          You're saying this is morally

      • American superheros are out of style, and will soon be history. The emasculated administration of our schools are trying to have kids arrested for even thinking about anything heroic. [] []

        Sorry, those are not my main, or favorite sources for news - but the liberal media doesn't seem to like those kind of stories.

        I don

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          They hammered him with a psyche test, and one of the questions was, "Why do you want to be a soldier?" His honest answer, "I want to have a gun!" disqualified him. Not only did it disqualify him for military service, but apparently, the shrink came unglued on him.

          I've heard similar stories of railroad employment. People who love trains are considered anathema. I guess the theory is that they're going in with all sorts of ridiculous expectations and are going to think "Damn, this isn't like my model train set" or something. Or maybe it's because people who love their job make things hard for the people just trying to get by via milking the system.

      • Look at the time line of AlQaeda attacks on the US.

        They will do it with weapons and money we are giving to them now, and the only unknown (to us) will be who gives the order.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Heh, Commissioner Gordon compromised about as much as Batman did - read (or watch) Batman Year One sometime. Same inflexible sense of morality (that wasn't exactly a normal person's), just fewer gadgets.

        The "dicks, pussies, assholes" rants in Team America World Police explain the point I think you're making better than anywhere else I've seen.

  • Troy Hurtubise (Score:4, Informative)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:25AM (#43301151) Journal
    Didn't he come up with something like this? Or am I misremembering one of his inventions? I recall someone putting a mound of shaving cream-looking stuff on a bomb and it went phut instead of boom. Then I remember Hurtubise demonstrating armor by being shot at.
    • Troy's had several inventions regarding armours and protection. His 1313 laminated plating resisted consecutive sniper rifle rounds to the same location (not possible with current armours), though I don't know of any public demonstration footage of this, as well as explosive charges larger than typical RPGs. His Firepaste, though, has protected his own face from a torch supposedly hotter than re-entry temperatures, footage of which is on YouTube.

      He also constructed a supposedly 97% coverage body armour ("T
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Suggesting it is one thing, I could have suggested it when playing with projectiles hitting powdered metal in 1990 (and so could many others going back decades more - it's pretty obvious if you look at shock waves in some materials and it's really just like a kevlar vest on a micro scale), implementing it is harder.
  • by shione ( 666388 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:25AM (#43301153) Journal

    I can see a lot better use for this than putting it on buildings. How often do buildings in the first world get bombed anyway and what affect will it have on demolishing them when needed? Put them in carparks, as crash barriers and traffic devices, even fencing walls, anything to hold cars back so they cannot cause greater damage to others.

    • I can see a lot better use for this than putting it on buildings. How often do buildings in the first world get bombed anyway and what affect will it have on demolishing them when needed?

      Are you seriously suggesting we stop panicking about unlikely things now? Because Western governments have spent the last decade fostering the panic, and I can't see them stopping any time soon. It's how they get away with everything these days, by invoking terrorism, child porn, or copyright infringement.

      How often has th

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      I can see a lot better use for this than putting it on buildings.

      Sounds like they're angling for some TSA money. Probably not a good sign for the long term viability of the technology (or the US economy for that matter).

    • Buildings don't get bombed that often, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it to do so. All major government buildings are required to have blast resistant exteriors, and other facilities, such as factories often have blast resistant materials because, well, things sometimes explode unexpectedly. The point of the blast resistance is entirely there to protect the person. You want to minimize the amount of shrapnel that occurs when the material is hit by a strong force. In this case, with the foam, it cou
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:31AM (#43301175) Homepage

    I would LOVE for them to figure out a better foam for armor for us motorcyclists. Right now we have standard polymer foams in our armor, but I would love some effective stuff that is thinner fill in the non impact points for extra protection. Right now I have thick CE rated foam armor in impact locations that also has kevlar on the outside, but I would love to have a reactive foam for a backboard that is flexible normally but solidifies into a backboard when the texting bimbo in the minivan runs me off the road and I come off the bike.

    Current motorcycle armor is effective, but it could be better.

    • by 1369IC ( 935113 ) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:00AM (#43301271)
      These things tend to make their way into industry, but it'll take a while. ARO funding university work is usually a first step in the process, but at the end, if it works out, it gets transitioned to industry in one form or fashion. For example, flexible display research started out with Army funding and there was a consortium with universities and industry. Here's a story. [] You can see they started working on it in '04, the article is from '08 and they're not at Best Buy just yet. Full disclosure: The Army Research Office is part of the Army Research Lab, which is part of the command I work in, the Research, Development and Engineering Command. We taxpayers fund a lot of research.
    • I would LOVE for them to figure out a better foam for armor for us motorcyclists.

      Try sintered armorgel! "Feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books."

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      "I would love to have a reactive foam for a backboard that is flexible normally but solidifies into a backboard when the texting bimbo in the minivan runs me off the road and I come off the bike."

      Does she do this often? Have you considered contacting the police?

      • Yes, she does this often. And, she's EVERYFRIGGINGWHERE!! People who normally drive sensibly and without distractions often fail to see a motorcycle. Such people are rarer and rarer all the time.

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Yes, she does this often. And, she's EVERYFRIGGINGWHERE!! People who normally drive sensibly and without distractions often fail to see a motorcycle. Such people are rarer and rarer all the time.

          Current research actually indicates that this is true - drivers in 4 wheeled vehicles are typically looking for drivers in other 4-wheeled vehicles and they will miss those in smaller 2-wheeled vehicles because they're not expecting to see them (their typically smaller profile doesn't help, either). And it also is p

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            Which is why I have 145DB of air horns on my bike. I have actually scared a woman swerving into my lane so badly that her cellphone went out the window. I smiled for the rest of the day.

            Problem is "loud pipes" are a wimply little girl solution as they are only 102db and behind the bike and are designed more for "look at me! look at me!" attention whores and are useless for safety. but airhorns mounted up by the headlight that will scare someone inside a BMW with the windows rolled up is a fantastic so

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Yes I have, problem is the police refuse to pull over all minivans and SUV's.

    • I'll ditto that. In fact, I posted above. CE armor is alright, but it only covers a few vital points. I hope that when I go skidding down the road on various parts of my body, all of those parts are covered. That's pretty unlikely though!

    • Well, foam is pretty much just air, so why not use just air, then? And that is exactly what companies like Alpinestars and Dainese have been producing for a while now for professional motorcycle racers -- air bag suits. When Carlos Checa clipped Marco Melandri last month in the opening race of the 2013 World Superbike season, they were both wearing air bag suits. Checa wears one from Alpinestars, and Melandri wears one from Dainese. Both companies have transferred their track-developed air bag technolog
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        I already have a neck restraint that inflates if I come off the bike rapidly. I have seen the other jackets like that but none in real tests They need to do crash tests on motorcycle racers before I drop $1100 for a jacket.

    • Probably not quite what you're looking for, but have seen the armor made by Forcefield []? Their back protector is soft and flexible, but it hardens up in a impact. It may not offer you quite the same level of protection from piercing damage as hard shelled armor, but it's every bit as good if not better for blunt force. ATGATT!!
  • This looks more like a better packing material than body armor. I do not see how this would work for stopping a smaller high speed trajectile. I do see this used for the replacement of some types of open and closed cell foams.
  • Wouldn't this foam work better if the empty spaces were filled with a compressible liquid?

  • That padding was something like an arms race. Basically the players hit each other to some sort of tolerable pain level. Add better padding, to hopefully reduce injuries, and as a side-effect that reduces the pain from a given hit force. Since the pain was reduced, it's obviously a call to increase the hit force.

    In essence, the improved padding simply increased the violence level, by making the increased violence physically tolerable. Nanofoam padding for football simply ups the ante. The flip side of

    • by jewens ( 993139 )

      Yes, the concept you are describing is the conservation of risk. Safer cars make drivers less careful, helmets make bicyclists less careful and drivers (the ones that see them) treat them as less fragile objects, criminals are bolder where the freedom to bear arms is curtailed, and people who know they can get health insurance on their way to the ER are less likely to have it already.

      Oh and the one thing improved armor technology is never used for is lightening the load on the soldier, cop etc. The just

  • How does it protect them from explosions on the inside?

  • People have been looking at preventing damage from impacts for more than a hundred years

    While this is technically true, I think he could have added a couple more zeros to that estimate and still made a very safe assertion.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.