Graphene Could Make Better Bulletproof Vests


Graphene is now able to withstand flying bullet!

Graphene is the thinnest material on the Earth, just one atom wide. It is also stronger than steel. Graphene has many attributes, that makes it very versatile and can be used in many different fields.

The newest use of graphene happened at the Rice University in the U.S. The team of researchers demonstrated, that graphene is better able to withstand the impact of a bullet than either steel or Kevlar. This study was published in the journal Science, and the team describes how they set up a miniature firing range in their lab and  they used it to test the strength of graphene sheets.

All of us know, how tough graphene sheets are due to their density of one atom thick structure. But until now, no one has tested it before as an armor. The researchers were the first one to try it even tough it was in much smaller scale. This is something, that could be very beneficial to many people but they have yet to figure out what way is the best for mass production of graphene in large size.


Graphene can withstand bullet

As I said before, the scale for this experiment was very small. As the firing range they used a laser to vaporize gold filaments to serve as the gunpowder. The explosion pushed micron-sized glass bullets at graphene targets – 10 to 100 sheets placed together to form a mat at a speed up to 10 782km/h (6.700mph). This is approximately a three times more than the speed of a real bullet fired from an M16 rifle. They also had to use an electron microscope to measure, how well graphene sheets absorbed the impact.

The results were a bit surprising. The researchers found out, that the sheets were able to distribute the energy of the bullet by stretching backwards, like when you jump on trampoline and also small cracks were formed which used up more of the energy. After they analyzed the results, the researchers found out, that the graphene is twice as strong as Kevlar, the material which we are currently using in bullet-proof vests, and graphene is up to 10 times better in performing than steel.


In the video below, you can see Jae-Hwang Lee who shows how the experiment was performed using the advanced laser inducted projectile impact test (a-LIPIT).

The researches said, that the reason why graphene is able to dissipate energy, is because it has got huge stiffness combined with low density, which we can say in a simpler way – the energy is able to move through it very quickly. This study shows, that graphene would be, indeed, very efficient if they could find a way how to produce it in enough quantity and at a cost as low as it is possible.

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Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics.

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