Okay, we are going to try to explain this to you knuckledraggers in the best way we can, since we are knuckledraggers too. Hell, the only time we have been to a college was to bang some sorority girls that wouldn’t stop calling us after Panama City spring break! (The story behind the now infamous “Cougars vs. Cubs Rail-a-thon of 2012” will have to wait, but seriously why don’t more of you dudes TAKE leave for spring break? Mission plan nasties!) So here we go. We attempt…to….explain…Science.
Recently scientists have been experimenting with a relatively newly discovered material called Graphene. First discovered by some Earl Grey tea drinking, funny sounding British scientists in 2010, (who won the Nobel Prize in Physics that year for its discovery) the material is being viewed as a new super material. It has many possible uses, to now include future armor.
Scientists are still testing its properties and discovering possible applications. Before we dive into this, you need to understand what graphene is exactly. Graphene, in its pure state, is a two-dimensional crystal of pure carbon atoms. These atoms are arranged in a honeycomb pattern in a sort of “atomic level chicken wire” pattern. Essentially nothing more than carefully arranged pure carbon, the 6th most abundant element in our universe, with carbon compounds forming the basis of all known life on Earth. Damn Science, you crazy! Graphene has become the thinnest material ever made. Amazingly strong and light, you would need to stack three million graphene sheets on top of each other to get a pile one millimeter high!
Strength 300 times that of steel
Lightest solid material ever made
Conducts electricity. Significantly better than copper!
It is the best conductor of heat on the planet.
It’s almost transparent.
Acts as an Incredible filter – it blocks all liquids and gases except water,
Highly two-dimensional material that reacts with light
Extremely flexible and can be stretched by 20 percent without any damage
A sheet the thickness of Saran wrap would support an elephant poised atop a pencil, in turn standing on the sheet.
Micro Ballistic tests.
Researchers have recently been testing graphene for its ability to be used as armor, firing tiny silica spheres at the material. They found that graphene, layered just an atom thick, is much stronger than steel when impacted by ballistic test projectiles. The tests ranged from 10-100 layers, laid one over another just as we currently do with Kevlar sheets in current issue vests. The projectiles impacted the honeycomb like matrix, dissipating energy by stretching the material into a cone shape before cracking. This means that graphene has the great elasticity of absorbing 8 to 10 times the impact of steel!
We could potentially have full armor suits someday made out of this material, which would weigh practically nothing, releases body heat and provides ventilation, maintains the natural flexibility of the human body, protects against NBC warfare and potentially can be integrated with a fiber-optic, self-adjusting camouflage system which will match your surroundings. That’s right. We are going to be dressed like the freaking “Predator”!!!
Now for the down side. This super carbon material is crazy expensive, and has to be carefully made in a lab. It’s so new to the science world, they are still figuring out how to make the stuff properly. But with more breakthroughs, we could seriously see this technology being applied to our armor systems this life time, even if in “analog” vest form like we currently have. But imagine having armor better then level 4, but wears like a t-shirt. Combined with an impact reducing polymer like Recoil discussed here, that could be something our troops are wearing in a decade or two.
Damn it’s an exciting time to be alive. Keep it up scientists, we want our damn Predator suit ASAP!