Carbon Nanotube Deflecting Projectile  (Source: University of Sydney)
Researchers are studying carbon nanotubes for more effective replacement to Kevlar

Carbon nanotubes are one of the more promising materials conceived in the field of nanotechnology. These carbon nanotubes are the focus of many researchers from around the world for a wide variety of tasks and uses.

DailyTech has previously covered the use of carbon nanotube embedded paper used as a battery, carbon nanotube based thermal interface material for computer use and the use of carbon nanotubes in super capacitors.

Two researchers, Kausala Mylvaganam and L C Zhang, from the University of Sydney in Australia have released a study of carbon nanotubes for their ballistic resistance capacity (PDF). The researchers are looking at carbon nanotube sheets as an alternative to fibers like Kevlar.

The trait that makes carbon nanotubes so interesting for use in bulletproof vests is that the carbon nanotubes have excellent resistance to repeated ballistic impacts. In theory, that would mean that soldiers and police officers wouldn’t need to replace body armor after taking hits and multiple hits in prolonged firefights would be more survivable than with current generation body armor.

Unlike Kevlar fibers that deform and loose effectiveness after struck, the carbon nanotube vest can withstand repeated impacts to the same spot without allowing the bullet to penetrate. The researchers say that body armor 600nm in thickness constructed form six sheets of the 100nm thick carbon nanotube yarns could bounce off a bullet with muzzle energy of 320 J.

That would be enough strength to stop low powered bullets fired from some handguns, but high velocity bullets fired from assault rifles carry much more muzzle energy than the current carbon nanotube fibers can withstand.

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