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article imageU.S. scientists create bulletproof T-shirts

By Elliot Meszaros     Apr 14, 2010 in Science
A new miracle material has been developed by a team of scientists that will soon turn simple T-shirts into sturdy armour.
These scientists have developed the flexible T-shirts to be strong enough to stop speeding bullets.
The fabric is made from the same material used in tank armour, a material produced by combining carbon with the world's third-hardest material.
Xiaodong Li, from the University of Carolina, along with a team of researchers came up with the idea of mixing one of the strongest materials in existence with one of the softest and most supple, namely cotton.
The process involves the T-shirts being treated with boron and then heated to more than 1,000°C (1832°F) in an oven, changing fibres in the T-shirt from cotton to carbon.
After a reaction between the boron and carbon fibres, boron carbide is produced - the material that tank armour and bulletproof plates in armoured vests are made from.
"It could even be used to produce lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aircrafts," Prof Li said.
Despite being somewhat stiffer and less bendable than normal T-shirts, the resulting material is still flexible enough to by worn normally.
"We expect that the nanowires can capture a bullet," Xiaodong Li, wrote in the journal Advanced Materials.
The use of the T-shirts also goes far beyond simply blocking bullets. "Almost all" ultraviolet rays as well as life-threatening neutrons usually emitted from decaying radioactive substances could be blocked by the T-shirt, Prof Li said.
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