Scientists Discover How to Turn Ordinary T-Shirts Into Body Armor

bulletproof T-shirt, bulletproof vest, wearable technology, body armor

A Hanes Beefy that can deflect bullets may sound like the stuff of comic books, but scientists have developed a way of bulking up an ordinary T-shirt to create wearable armor. By splicing the carbon in the cotton with boron, the third hardest material on the planet, researchers at the University of South Carolina markedly increased the fabric’s toughness. The result is a lightweight shirt reinforced with boron carbide—the same material used to shield military tanks.

bulletproof T-shirt, bulletproof vest, wearable technology, body armor


This breakthrough, according to Dr. Xiaodong Li, a professor of mechanical engineering at USC and co-author of a paper on the subject in Advanced Materials, signals a “conceptual change in fabricating lightweight, fuel-efficient, super-strong and ultra-tough materials.”

The nanowires are super-elastic but with the same strength and stiffness of current boron carbide.

Unlike the brittle boron carbide currently in use, the synthesized fibers (“nanowires”) are super-elastic. Yet they maintain the same strength and stiffness of their predecessors. “They are not only lightweight but also flexible,” Li says. “We should be able to fabricate much tougher body armors using this new technique. It could even be used to produce lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aircrafts.”

Look, up in the sky!

+ University of South Carolina

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6 Responses to “Scientists Discover How to Turn Ordinary T-Shirts Into Body Armor”

  1. drudalton says:

    Wow, this is pretty nuts. Maybe we’ll start printing these soon :(

  2. sdsb110 says:

    I’m confused. So if I was wearing this shirt and was shot with a bullet, this means that the bullet won’t break the fibers. However, since the fibers are super-elastic, does that mean that the bullet will hit the fibers, and stretch the shirt in the direction of your body until it completely loses its force?

    I know with Kevlar, many people get winded and bruised when a bullet hits the armor. In this situation, there isn’t anything solid about the armor, so stretching into the armor would stretch into the body. Right?

  3. SpringBok12 says:

    Can we please see a video of a bullet hitting a T-shirt and being deflected? That would be cool.

  4. delusionist says:

    So now some criminal or scientist is going to come up with lead fused with boron bullet tips to make “boron armor piercing” bullets….. This will just be a tool for the over rich super controling powers so they can control and manipulate the rest of mankind ….

  5. Reow says:

    Presumably this will become affordable in the long term and enter general use. With the recent developments in energy storage (e.g. ultracapacitors) and energy weapons (albethey not portable, e.g. Boeing), I would not be surprised if this helps end the ballistic age of weaponry.

  6. berkbw says:

    I don’t think I’m ready to be in one for a test using live fire.


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