Air Force cadet creates bulletproof breakthrough, by Kelly Burke.
Air Force cadet Hayley Weir had an idea that turned out to be a game changer. “It was just the concept of going out there and stopping a bullet with something that we had made in a chemistry lab.”
The 21-year-old Weir approached Air Force Academy Assistant Professor Ryan Burke with the idea. He was skeptical. “I said, ‘I’m not really sure this is going to work, the body armor industry is a billion-plus-dollar industry,” he noted.
Weir’s idea was to combine anti-ballistic fabric with what’s known as a shear thickening fluid to create a less heavy material to use in body armor. She demonstrated the principle to Burke by combining water and cornstarch in a container and asking the professor to jam his finger into the paste-like goo.
“I jam my finger right into this bowl, and I almost broke my finger! Hayley’s laughing because I’ve got this finger that I’m shaking and I’m saying, ‘You know, that’s pretty impressive stuff.'” …
After getting it working in a prototype that stopped magnum bullets:
They realized they had hit on something special, that could potentially lighten the average 26-pound body armor kit worn by servicemen in the field by as much as two thirds.
“This is something that our competition doesn’t have right now,” Weir explained. “And with this advantage our soldiers, if they wear this body armor, will be able to move faster, run farther, jump higher.”
It’s still at the prototype stage.