MIT scientists make flexible superhero body armor inspired by … lobster

Imagine an extremely sophisticated armor, both sturdy and flexible, which is mainly composed of water, but remains strong enough to prevent mechanical penetration.

Now, imagine that this armor is not only solid, but also soft and extensible, so that the wearer can easily move the parts of his body, whether he is swimming in the water, crossing the ground or rushes to escape the danger.

This description may seem to be a costume worn by a fictional hero from the DC Comics franchise, but it actually describes parts of a lobster's exoskeleton.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard believe that the flexible membrane covering the joints and the abdomen of the animal – a material as resistant as the industrial rubber used to make car tires and hoses. Watering – could guide the development of a new type of flexible body. Armor for the man, designed to cover the joints like the knees and the elbows.

The results of the researchers were published in a recent edition of the journal Acta Materialia.

"We believe this work could motivate the design of flexible armor," said Ming Guo, assistant professor of Arbeloff's career development at MIT's mechanical engineering department, noting that the membrane's lobster had helped her survive over 100 years on Earth. millions of years.

If you could make armor from this type of material, you could move your joints freely and feel more comfortable. "

According to the National Institute of Justice, law enforcement officials have widely used bullet-proof vests, commonly known as bullet-proof vests, which have saved thousands of weapons ammunition agents fist and rifles. But the vests also present challenges.

As the The Washington Post Devlin Barrett announced in 2017 that Kevlar – a tightly woven fiber board designed to prevent bullets from handguns – had an expiration date and generally lasted no more than five years.

According to NIJ, bullet-proof vests can also be ill-fitting, especially for female officers who sometimes need a custom fit.

Some studies have shown that bullet-proof vests can also affect the wearer's accuracy and concentration and increase "the physiological cost of performing a task in use", providing both protection and increased risk, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

MIT researchers believe that lobster could offer a solution to the problem of modern body armor: the more armor is mobile, the less it protects the body of the wearer.

Guo told MIT News that the idea of ​​developing a lobster-inspired body armor had appeared while he was eating one and found that the transparent membrane on the animal's belly was difficult to to chew. Unlike the crustacean's outer shell of bone, the softer tissues of the animal remain a mystery, he said.

Once the researchers began dissecting these tissues, they made a surprising discovery. Making large cuts in the membrane did not affect the elasticity of the material.

The researchers determined that elasticity and strength are due to the unique structure of the membrane, which includes tens of thousands of layers compared to plywood. The fibers in these layers help the material dissipate energy when it is stressed, making it "damage tolerant," the researchers write.

"The knowledge gained from the lobster's soft membrane sheds light on the design of synthetic materials, flexible and resistant, for reliable use in extreme mechanical conditions."

Guo told MIT News that materials designed to replicate the strength and flexibility of lobster membranes could also be used in soft robotics and tissue engineering.

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This article was originally published by The Washington Post.

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