A recent discovery credited to the Israel Institute of Technology (IIT) indicates that fish scales are strong enough to protect us from bullets, and possibly even space debris. The discovery, made at Technion, an establishment under the IIT, makes use of 3D printing to form an exceptionally tough material composed of two layers. Stephan Rudykh, an assistant professor at the institute, has created the layer, which, besides being impervious, is also soft enough to be converted into a space suit or bullet-proof clothing.
This material is unique in that it boasts both imperviousness and durability – something that similar previous materials do not possess. The professor states that he was inspired by fish, whose scaly skins carry the same attributes. He said that typically, as flexibility increases, the strength of a material reduces and vice versa. This however, is an exception when it comes to fish, which are protected by a layer of hard scales that protect a layer of soft tissue.
According to Rudykh, the material can withstand penetration, making it, in theory, an ideal choice for creating bullet-proof clothing and spacesuits (for protection against micro-meteorites). This new material, says its creator, features a 40-factor higher resistance to penetration, whereas the loss of flexibility dropped by a mere factor of five.
Currently, even as 3D printing has disrupted the wearable innovations space, this new material could be used in combination with advanced technologies for some exciting breakthroughs.
The creator of this material explains that the encouraging results were achieved by essentially experimenting with geometry of soft and rigid materials. The next step in the development of this material will be testing the durability of the material when exposed to high-speed particles and projectiles.