The addition of a small amount of silicon can greatly improve the bullet-proof capability of conventional bulletproof materials

According tomedia reports, body armor can take many forms, different materials have different advantages and disadvantages. Engineers often turn to boron carbide, which is also known as the “black diamond” for its incredible hardness and weight, which makes it ideal for bulletproof vests. Scientists at Texas Agricultural University have found a way to enhance the material’s ability to add a little silicon to the mixture so it can withstand bullets flying at higher speeds.

The addition of a small amount of silicon can greatly improve the bullet-proof capability of conventional bulletproof materials

Kelvin Xie, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “Boron carbide is very good at stopping bullets that fly at speeds below 900 m/s, so it can be very effective in blocking most pistols. But at this critical speed, boron carbide suddenly loses its ballistic performance, and the effect is not as good as the previous one. “

What scientists call a phase change occurs when armor made of boron carbide encounters high-speed projectiles. “When boron carbide occurs in phase, the glass phase creates a channel for crack expansion,” Xie says, “so any local damage caused by a bullet can easily pass through the material and cause more and more damage.” “

Early studies have shown that adding a small amount of another element can compensate for this flaw in boron carbide armor, so Xie and his team tested the theory with silicon. They used a small amount of this element to produce boron carbide and then experiment.

The team used diamond heads to simulate the impact of high-speed bullets by punching holes in the material and then using a high-energy electron microscope to assess damage. Even with minimal amounts of silicon added, the material can achieve more effective impact, and scientists have observed a 30% reduction in phase change and a reduction in overall damage.

“Just as in cooking, a small amount of spice can greatly enhance taste, and by using a small amount of silicon, we can greatly improve boron carbide performance and find new applications for these superhard materials,” says Xie. “

Next, the team hopes to conduct further experiments to see if other elements, such as lithium or aluminum, can be introduced to improve the armor’s performance.