When it comes to body armor, lots of improvements and changes have occurred over the years, but nothing significant or truly game-changing. Well, with a recent research study performed by some physicists in New York that could all change.
A paper was recently published in Nature Nanotechnology covering something called diamene¹. What it is is a substance comprised entirely of carbon – like graphite or diamonds. But placing the carbon in a specific arrangement gives it outstanding properties!
Elisa Riedo, the project’s lead researcher and a professor of physics at Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at The City University of New York (CUNY), elaborated on what they have stumbled upon:
This is the thinnest film with the stiffness and hardness of diamond ever created. Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film. But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond.
If you are a firearm enthusiast, you can understand where I am heading with this. In the state of New York (oh, that is some good irony) they have created a carbon material that when struck hardens significantly and does not allow a pass through. Even if a fast moving projectile such as a bullet hits the tin foil thin barrier it will not pass through².
Another researcher from CUNY, Angelo Bongiorno, commented as to why diamene is different than other similar substances:
Graphite and diamonds are both made entirely of carbon, but the atoms are arranged differently in each material, giving them distinct properties such as hardness, flexibility and electrical conduction. Our new technique allows us to manipulate graphite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions.
Some big questions I have are…
How difficult is it to produce diamene?
Is it something that could be made commercially?
At a reasonable price for the use of body armor?
I believe that their production or discovery of diamene could have significant benefits for a lot of applications. Place it on vehicles to protect passengers… planes… boats… and of course, body armor since it is so thin, light and flexible. Hopefully, this is a discovery that can receive a lot of backing and support because the utility seems tremendous!
¹Gao, Yang, et al. “Ultrahard Carbon Film from Epitaxial Two-Layer Graphene.”Www.Nature.com, 23 Sept. 2017, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-017-0023-9.epdf
²O’Callaghan, Jonathan. “New Graphene Material Turns Harder Than Diamond When It’s Hit By A Bullet.” IFLScience, IFLScience, 22 Dec. 2017, www.iflscience.com/technology/this-new-graphene-material-called-diamene-turns-harder-than-diamond-when-its-hit-by-a-bullet/