MIT Ultralight Carbon Material Kevlar Supersonic Impact
Researchers from MIT, Caltech, and ETH Zürich have developed an ultralight material designed from precisely patterned nanoscale structures that could eventually be used in lightweight armor, protective coatings, blast shields, and other impact-resistant applications. More specifically, this ultralight material is made from nanometer-scale carbon struts that give it even more material toughness and mechanical robustness than Kevlar. Read more for a short clip of a microparticle impacting the material and additional information.

To see just how resilient the material is, the researchers performed microparticle impact experiments at MIT using laser-induced particle impact tests. This allowed them to aim an ultrafast laser through a glass slide coated with a thin film of gold. Once the laser passed through the slide, it generated a plasma, or a rapid expansion of gas from the gold, which pushed the silicon oxide particles out in the direction of the laser, causing them to accelerate toward the target.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Earth Science Kit - Over 15 Science Experiments & STEM Activities for Kids, Crystal Growing, Erupting Volcanos, 2 Dig Kits & 10 Genuine Specimens, an AMAZON EXCLUSIVE Science Kit
8,278 Reviews
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Earth Science Kit - Over 15 Science Experiments & STEM Activities for Kids, Crystal Growing, Erupting Volcanos, 2 Dig Kits & 10 Genuine Specimens, an AMAZON EXCLUSIVE Science Kit
  • MASSIVE SCIENCE KIT FOR CURIOUS KIDS - More than 15 experiment activities including dueling water tornadoes, building an erupting volcano, growing a crystal, two geologic dig kits, and more
  • ENOUGH TO GO AROUND - This science lab allows kids to conduct multiple experiments and is great to share with family, friends, or classmates; you will enjoy the magic of discovery together
  • THE SECRET IS THE SCIENCE - A detailed learning guide teaches the science at work in the experiments, allowing your child to develop a deep, lasting appreciation for a variety of Earth sciences
  • HASSLE-FREE EXPERIMENTS - Clear, easy-to-follow instructions build young scientists' confidence as they experiment, allowing them to focus on the joy of exploration and discovery
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEED – The National Geographic STEM series provides kids high-quality educational toys that are a whole lot of fun! If your experience is anything less than extraordinary, let us know so we can make it right for you.

The knowledge from this work… could provide design principles for ultra-lightweight impact resistant materials [for use in] efficient armor materials, protective coatings, and blast-resistant shields desirable in defense and space applications,” said co-author Julia R. Greer, a professor of materials science, mechanics, and medical engineering at Caltech.