Fish scales just might be the answer to advanced military body armor.
Scientists at MIT and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology are reverse-engineering arapaima scales to lead the way to creating advanced military uniforms that can provide ultimate protection while still remaining incredibly flexible. These specific fish scales are so strong that they can withstand attacks from piranhas; and scientists think they can do the same thing, only with bullets.
What researches have found is that by varying different angles of a hard material on top of a soft flexible material creates a barrier that can be up to 40 times stronger than that single material alone. Professor Stephan Rudykh, head of the mechanics at the soft materials laboratory at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is leading the way when it comes to this ground-breaking science.
“Fish are flexible creatures, but are protected by hard scales” said Rudykh. “Their secret is the combination of the scales and the soft tissue beneath them, and that is what I tried to mimic here.”
There is a little more to to with this technology than how it reads, though.
“The materials that I am designing are also made of two layers. One soft body and the other scales constitutes the armor”, he said. “These two components provide the combined property of protecto-flexibility that we want.”
This technology can be applied to kevlar armor and create a suit that is simply impenetrable. Parts of the body that doesn’t flex, like the chest and back, will have harder scales or more layering. Other parts of the body that flexes, like elbows, knees, arms, and legs can have more flexible scales but still maintain the same level of protection.
Currently, this body armor idea has begun being funded by the U.S. Army Research Office. If that is any indication, it sounds like this body suit might be more of a reality than a futuristic project.