Synthetic Ceramic May Reduce Weight of Armor by 35 Percent

A new synthetic ceramic armor has been developed by the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (also known as DSTL) in the UK. The material will reduce the weight of armor used in combat and can provide more flexibility for soldiers.

The material is believed to reduce the weight of armor by approximately 35 per cent and has been developed as part of a four-year synthetic biology research project that has been continuing for the past four years. The next phase of the research is to scale-up the material to create samples large enough to undertake hardness testing. This stage is important due to the nature of the application of the material. The synthetic ceramic armor must be able to resist plastic deformation – in this case from a bullet or shrapnel.

The weight reduction of the ceramic armor could make soldiers more comfortable in a war zone. In addition to this, the soldiers could be faster while preserving the level of protection needed for such dangerous work.

Image credit: StockCube/Shutterstock

Defense Minister Harriett Baldwin visited the MOD’s research hub at Porton Down to meet the scientists behind the innovative synthetically adjusted ceramic material. In a conference, Baldwin confirmed that “The goal is always to help our Armed Forces defend the UK, and this next generation of armor will make our troops even more alert and effective on the battlefield.”

To do this, approximately £6 million has been invested in the synthetic ceramic material research extending to academia and industry via a sequence of competitions. The aim of this is to try and bring the industry and academia together. It should be noted that some of the competitions have been run jointly with the Research Councils, while other use MOD organizations, such as the Defense Accelerator, to run the competitions independently.

Presently, the MOD has committed approximately 1.2% of the £36 billion defense budget to driving innovation in science and technology. This is supported by a dedicated £800 million ‘Innovation Fund’.

Baldwin applauds this. She states that “We’ve spent millions on innovation this year, developing technologies like a new way to uncover insurgents’ fingerprints to mini-drones that investigate chemical hazards.”

Last year, the research team developed several sensational projects using the latest science and technology. In particular, the new mini-drone referred to by the defense minister. This pocket-sized drone is known as Snake Eyes and is used as a mini-detector. It features high-tech equipment that is capable of investigating chemical or biohazard traces.

Furthermore, the DSTL has developed cutting-edge fingerprint detectors to target and uncover enemy fingerprints as well as a so called ‘lightning-fast’ protection system named Icarus. This protection system is able to route out and defeat any threats to armored vehicles within 100 milliseconds.

Similarly, the Innovation fund has allowed the researchers to develop laser technology that can acquire, track and engage aerial and surface targets. The Laser Directed Energy Weapon (LDEW) can operate under various weather conditions and at numerous ranges.

However, perhaps the most innovative project that came from the DSTL in 2017 was the remote control 4x4 trucks. In a world first, British soldiers used an ‘X-box style’ remote control to lead a driverless truck in an unmanned convoy. This could allow soldiers to get supplies to the front line without the need to risk their own lives.

Funding has been given to the research team to continue their tests on the new synthetic ceramic armor. It has been confirmed that the material will be scaled up to be ready for live-fire testing.

This story is reprinted from material from theengineer.com, with editorial changes made by Azo Network. The original article can be found here.

Isabelle Robinson

Written by

Isabelle Robinson

Isabelle Robinson is a freelance writer for a variety of AZoNetwork sites and is based in the UK. She graduated from Heriot-Watt University in 2015 with a BEng (Hons) degree in Civil Engineering. She also recently achieved an MSc degree, with merit, in Structural Engineering at the University of Salford.

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