Have you ever played with that weird goop (sometimes called “oobleck”) that you can make by mixing water and corn starch together in the proper proportions? You know; that stuff that’ll ooze through your fingers if you hold it in your hand, but feels hard as a rock when you try to squeeze or punch it? Well believe it or not, a Polish company by the name of Moratex has developed a new type of bulletproof vest that uses almost the exact same technology.
Rather than being filled with a rigid substance like Kevlar, this vest is filled with a special type of non-Newtonian fluid that Moratex is simply calling Shear-Thickening Fluid (STF). Think of this stuff as a souped-up, chemically perfected version of oobleck. When a force is applied to it, it causes the liquid’s viscosity to increase. The more force you apply, the more viscous the material becomes — so when it’s struck with a high-velocity projectile (like a bullet), the fluid becomes incredibly hard almost instantaneously.
Amazingly, despite looking no more bulletproof than maple syrup, the STF is more effective at stopping projectiles than a piece of solid Kevlar. Even the most rigid material will tend to bend inward a few centimeters when hit with a fast-moving projectile, but Moratex’s specially designed STF insert will only experience one centimeter of indentation when hit with a bullet moving at 1,400 feet per second or faster. This ultimately translates to less impact felt by the wearer, and less risk of being seriously injured.
And the benefits don’t end there. In addition to stopping bullets more effectively, Moratex’s liquid armor is also lighter and more flexible than traditional bulletproof vests, so it doesn’t restrict the wearer’s movement as much.
Bulletproofing is just the beginning, too. According to Moratex, STF has applications beyond body armor, and could be used in things like professional sports inserts, car bumpers, or road barriers.