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US to test impregnable body armour made of 'nanofoam'

Washington, Wed, 03 Apr 2013 ANI

Washington, Apr. 3 (ANI): Researchers at the University of California, San Diego will undertake a three-year research program to investigate nanofoam for protection.

The first foam armour endeavour ever has been funded by the US Army's research and development arm, reports Fox News.

Yu Qiao, professor of structural engineering at the University, said they are developing nanofoams that help disperse the force of an impact over a wider area. He said they will appear to be less rigid but will actually be more resistant than ordinary foams.

Qiao's nanofoam may someday protect soldiers' brains from blast trauma and prevent blast-induced lung injury. It may also be used to protect buildings from blasts. The team's nanofoam has a porous structure like honeycomb, making the new material very light.

Standard foam doesn't provide protection against impacts or blasts.

Part of their research involves working out the ideal pore size to absorb energy from impacts.

The team creates the nanofoam by mixing two materials together at the molecular level. One material is then removed using "acid etching" or combustion. The process creates channels at a microscopic level. In the final step, the material is dry cured.

The team tested the nanofoam to see how much energy it could absorb from an impact, putting it in a testing rig powered by a gas gun and slamming it with increasing force.

To examine and evaluate the damage, they used a scanning electron microscope.

The team says the research is promising and they plan to provide their results at an upcoming a research expo April 18 at UC San Diego.

During the next two years, the research team plans to manufacture and test metallic and polymeric nanomaterials. (ANI)

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