Materials

Graphene-based armor could stop bullets by becoming harder than diamonds

Made of two stacked layers of graphene, diamene temporarily becomes harder than bulk diamonds under impact
Made of two stacked layers of graphene, diamene temporarily becomes harder than bulk diamonds under impact
View 1 Image
Made of two stacked layers of graphene, diamene temporarily becomes harder than bulk diamonds under impact
1/1
Made of two stacked layers of graphene, diamene temporarily becomes harder than bulk diamonds under impact

While bullet-proof body armor does tend to be thick and heavy, that may no longer be the case if research being conducted at The City University of New York bears fruit. Led by Prof. Elisa Riedo, scientists there have determined that two layers of stacked graphene can harden to a diamond-like consistency upon impact.

For those who don't know, graphene is made up of carbon atoms linked together in a honeycomb pattern, and it takes the form of one-atom-thick sheets. Among various other claims to fame, it is the world's strongest material.

Known as diamene, the new material is made up of just two sheets of graphene, upon a silicon carbide substrate. It is described as being as light and flexible as foil – in its regular state, that is. When sudden mechanical pressure is applied at room temperature, though, it temporarily becomes harder than bulk diamond.

The material was conceived of by associate professor Angelo Bongiorno, who developed computer models which indicated that it should work, as long as the two sheets were aligned correctly. Riedo and colleagues then conducted tests on samples of actual diamene, which backed up Bongiorno's findings.

Interestingly, the hardening effect only happens when two sheets of graphene are used – no more or no less. That said, scientists at Rice University have had success in absorbing the impact of "microbullets" using graphene that's stacked 300 layers thick.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: The City University of New York via Graphene-Info

15 comments
jonathan73
Yeah this is all very good; until, of course graphene bullets are made, then ...
hkmk23
Sounds promising, but......what about a double tap ie two rounds in quick sucession next to each other? (Usual method of firing). and of course there are many different calibres with different kinetic powers. A 30-06 round normally travels at 2800-3000 feet per second but if it is steel tipped you are in a whole new ball game to a .45acp at 745fps. It would be fantastic if the vest was self healing and reverted.
Brian M
The interesting question is why it only works with two sheets? Could multiply layers of the two ply sheets be layered with a non diamene between to further strength.
Bob Stuart
Diamonds crack very easily. Hardness is for abrasives, not impact resistance.
MerlinGuy
I'm going to file this one with all the other graphene articles under "Not In My Lifetime". Do you think the word "graphene" will be used by future generations the same way we use "snake-oil"?
Vforvendetta
It should be affordable and available to everyone .
blitherer
So it hardens, then what, more damage from the remnants?
Expanded Viewpoint
You are correct, Bob. Hardness does NOT equate to toughness or strength. Tungsten carbide is very hard, but fractures quite easily under impacts, so even materials that it may cut through on my lathe can dull the bits if they are uneven, like say splines on an axle shaft. Or hard spots (inclusions) in cheaply made steels. As to HKMK23's comments, that energy has to go some place, so just stopping penetration is only a part of the equation to consider. 2K Ft Lbs of energy going into your body is going to shake things up a bit here and there. Take multiple hits, and you'll be taking an extra long dirt nap too! Randy
TJG
I wonder how much kinetic energy it takes from the bullet to form the diamond structure. Unless it absorbs a substantial portion, then you'll have a diamond tipped bullet entering your body.
JasonBurr
How about we use this for space craft to protect against micro meteorites?
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.