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Page Updated: 30-Nov-2006
SPS Homepage > News 2006

Developing better, lighter body armour

A team of scientists from the Czech Republic, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine are beginning work on a NATO Science for Peace project on “Light Weight and Transparent Armours”, which aims to develop a new generation of body armour material.

This new material will be lighter (about 80 kg/m2) and thinner (25-35 mm), while providing the same level of protection as material currently being produced (80 mm).

Breaking the bullet

The team intends to develop a technology for the production of an ultra-hard surface layer for such armour (monocrystalline sapphire or high alumina glass), which would shatter the bullet, and absorb the majority of the impact energy.

The rest of the bullet’s impact energy will be absorbed by a sequence of underlying plastic and glass layers. The thickness, sequence, and materials of these layers will be the object of the studies in this project.

By optimising this technology, the team also aim at achieving mass production of this material with an end-user price that will be acceptable for consumers.

Joint effort

The producer and supplier of the sapphire will be the Institute for Single Crystals in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The completion and production of the underlying layers will be carried out by Saint Gobain Advanced Ceramics in Turnov, Czech Republic.

The project was awarded on 14 November 2005 and is expected to be completed in spring 2009.

NATO’s Science for Peace programme supports international collaboration between scientists in order to contribute to security by applying cutting-edge science to problem solving.