Graphene was a part of a very interesting test, which tested the potentially bulletproof qualities that armor made from the so-called “wonder material.” Think of graphene as a honeycomb structure, which is said to be amongst the strongest of its kind that has some really intriguing qualities for this type of application – like flexibility, being conductible by electricity, and having a structure as strong as steel but incredibly thin – making absorbing impacts – as those from bullets, very plausible.
A team from the University of Massachusetts, led by Jae-Hwang Lee noted the test and made observations during the execution of the test. The honeycombs distribute the energy and the impact by absorbing it, sending it outward, and then splitting it off – or cracking it up – as the team called it. The results showed that the graphene can absorb between 8 and 10 times greater impact than steel. The team though does have some additional research to do since the bullet hole or point of impact was essentially expanded larger than through conventional methods – which is cause for concern as they move forward. However, the team was adamant that with the addition of one, or two composite materials – the cracking would be eliminated and the impact hole would be eliminated entirely.
Graphene hasn’t been around that long. In 2010, Andre Geim and Konstatin Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery which was officially discovered and published in 2004. Ten years later graphene is being tested in an application that could help save lives.
Current examples of body armor consist of ceramic plates or metal plates buried within clothing. It functions in a very simple way when it’s broken down and looked at. The plates push back against the object that is hitting the bulletproof object. The science behind it says that the ceramic or metal plate pushes back with the same amount, or roughly the same amount of force – as the projectile, or bullet in this case is exerting on the armor. The point is that the new technology, or the honeycomb technology as it may be seen – is a significant improvement to this because it doesn’t just react to the force that is being exerted on it – but actually accounts for it and spreads it out instead of challenging it directly.
Earlier in the year Samsung made headlines for their breakthrough with the “wonder material” graphene, as they worked to begin implementing it within their wearable technologies, as well as their mobile devices. The strength of the material combined with the thinness of the material would make it amongst the best options for future devices to step away from traditional aluminum, plastic, or other alternative materials. Applying it on the commercial scale in the tech community would be a significant breakthrough, especially as Samsung has experienced a tumultuous year that has been filled with defeat-after-defeat in the mobile space.