FARNSBOROUGH, England, July 21 (UPI) -- BAE Systems has developed a "liquid armor" material to enhance the ballistics protection of vests worn by troops while lightening overall weight.
The technology, called "liquid armor," uses shear thickening fluids that "lock" together when subjected to a force to enhance the existing energy absorbing properties of material structures such as Kevlar.
The company said the technology offers increased protection with reduced mass, wider coverage area and easy integration into standard Kevlar body armor.
Ceramic-based armor plates, currently used for added protection to a soldier's torso, are heavy and bulky, adding to the physical strain of troops in the field in places such as Afghanistan.
"The technology is best explained by the example of stirring water with a spoon," said Stewart Penney, head of Business Development for Design and Materials Technologies at BAE Systems. "In water you feel little resistance to the spoon. Whereas with 'liquid armor' you would feel significant resistance as the elements in the fluid lock together.
"The faster you stir, the harder it gets, so when a projectile impacts the material at speed, it hardens very quickly and absorbs the impact energy."
An early prototype of the technology has been demonstrated to Britain's Ministry of Defense, BAE said, and the company plans on further development to create a super lightweight version of the material and incorporate the technology into body armor systems.