The Spanish Navy has been experimenting with a graphene based bulletproof vest. Researchers have been developing the technology over the past four years and recently completed some live fire tests. A spokesperson from the Spanish Navy described the testing results as ‘very positive and promising’.
The material graphene is a semi-metal which is made up of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is often described as one of the thinnest and strongest materials ever developed – seemingly an idea material for ballistic armour. Development of graphene armours began back in the early 2000s and the Spanish Navy is one of a number of organisations developing the technology.
The Spanish team includes researchers from the Polythechnic University of Cartagena and the Infantry School of General Albacete & Fuster have been working on the ‘Applications of graphene in personal defense equipment’ for several years under the direction of the General Directorate of Armament & Material.
Infodefensa.com reports that the programme entered a new phase of live fire testing in late September with the graphene armour being subjected to fire from weapons of various calibres. The project is being financed by the European Defence Agency which is enabling a study in conjunction with a Spanish research and development company Tecnalia and the UK-based consultancy company Cambridge Nanomaterials Technology.
Earlier this year Imperial College London also began experimenting with graphene armour combining the new material with silk. Researchers at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine sprayed graphene directly onto silk to create a resistant film. While this programme has not yet tested their resistant material with live ammunition they have fired tiny pieces of metal at it using a device in the lab. The graphene was found to increase the strength of the silk and one of the researchers, Dr Gianmaria Bullegas described it as “a good start, and we are already seeing improvements on our original designs.”