Crystal defence

Published: Thursday 15 May 1997

A new type of bullet-proof vest made from liquid crystals has been invented by researchers at the University of Southampton, UK. When applying an electrical voltage to a layer of crystals, researchers discovered that they all turn to face the same direction, forming a long chain of molecules. Hightensile fibres can then be formed by chemically linking the chains together and these can be woven into existing fabrics. Once the fabrics have been set in resin and moulded, the super-strong fibres form a barrier against bullets. According to Harry Coles, the bonds between the fibres are among the strongest known to exist.

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