Harvard University created a new material as resistant as Kevlar but with a flame resistance 20 times higher
Kevlar and Twaron are among the most famous materials for their mechanical strength combined with low weight. However, the increase in physical properties often leads to an unwanted increase in weight or loss of flame retardant properties. Mechanical strength is guaranteed by the molecular structure of the fibers and the way they are organized in the final product. The high structural organization allows the forces to be redistributed over the entire surface area, making them suitable for applications such as bulletproof clothing. On the contrary, fireproof materials have porous and not very dense structures, making it difficult to reconcile all the characteristics in a single material.
Research from Harvard University, published in the journal Matter, describes a new material that manages to combine all the properties listed above. The researchers developed a process called immersion rotary jet-spinning. The technique forces a liquid plastic solution through small holes to produce long fibres. The fibers reach the centrifuge walls covered with a liquid that solidifies the fiber. The researchers are able to modify the viscosity of the starting polymer solution to obtain the desired properties. The result is a fiber composed of long nanofibers that are cheered and rich in pores trapped between the different nanofibers.
The new material was used to produce the first fabrics and subjected to several tests. The results show a bullet resistance very similar to the most commercially available Kevlar and Twaron. In addition, thermal tests showed an insulating property 20 times greater than materials on the market. The coexistence of the different properties also allows for lighter and more comfortable end products. The invention can give a strong acceleration to the search for multi-material materials, paving the way for a revolution in the field of supermaterials.