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Updated 9:12 AM EST, Tue, Jan 05, 2021

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Graphene Better than Kevlar and Steel as Body Armor

Graphene

(Photo : Wikimedia) 2D Graphene.

Scientists are convinced pure graphene body armor will provide twice more protection against bullets than Kevlar but will be significantly lighter.

Tests have convinced them that layers of graphene just one-atom thick will absorb impacts that would penetrate steel. Tests suggest pure graphene provides twice more protection than Kevlar, the material most widely used in bulletproof vests.

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Graphene is a sheet of single carbon atoms that's incredibly strong for its very light weight. It's also 10 times stronger than steel.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts conducted mini ballistic tests in which they fired tiny silicon spheres at a graphene sheet made from single carbon atoms. They used lasers to fire these tiny microbullets at 10 to 100 layers of graphene sheets.

The silicon bullets were fired at 3,000 meters per second, which is one third the speed of a regular automatic rifle bullet.

The team discovered the graphene sheets dissipated the kinetic energy from the microbullets by stretching into a cone shape at the bullet's impact point, and by cracking outward radially.

Using multiple layers of graphene or using graphene as part of a composite structure could keep the cracks from spreading. Despite this flaw, graphene performed twice as well as Kevlar and withstood kinetic energy 10 times better than steel.

Graphene sheets have to be built up layer by layer to form multiple layers since its solid form is much too brittle. Researchers believe these layers are incorporated with other materials can prevent the cracks from spreading as opposed to using a pure graphene sheet.

Energy waves from bullet impacts travel through graphene three times faster than steel, meaning graphene quickly absorbs and dissipates energy from a projectile.

Graphene was successfully developed in 2003 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the Manchester University in the U.K. Their work on graphene won them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.

This study was published in the journal, Science.

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