To protect American troops on the battlefield, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are developing a new undeformable and invisible armor inspired by the marine world.
Scientists were attracted to the shell "Placuna Placenta" and were able to reproduce in the laboratory the peculiar characteristics of the shell, formed at 99% by calcite to protect the organic material. The extraordinary strength of the shell is associated with uncommon transparency, which is why we are already talking about "SeaShell" or marine shield.
It is not the first time that scientists are inspired by the natural world for possible military implications. Just think of spy drones like the Hummingbird of AeroVironment.
The new biological exoskeleton could represent the new frontier for advanced protection systems for troops.
Transparent armor has been under consideration for about five years. Mit scientists have discovered that the shell, "attacked" from the outside with a diamond point, responds by forming a multilayer calcite barrier. The shell therefore responds, naturally, to protect the mollusc. The Placuna Placenta shell is able to dissipate up to ten times the energy of a penetrating body, damping the spread of impact cracks. The natural reaction of the shell to a localized external attack has effectively preserved the mechanical integrity of the rest of the structure.
In a not-so-distant future, soldiers could be protected by a light transparent structure of biological design that does not impede their movements and is able to dissipate impact energy.
The study was published in the journal Nature Materials.