This new tshirt may not make you taller, but it will make you bulletproof. According to scientists from South Carolina, Switzerland and China, a shirt that cost you five bucks can be turned into body armor. The scientists have created soft and flexible form of boron carbide, which is the same compound that is used to protect tanks.
Boron carbide is the third hardest material on Earth. Heavy plates of boron carbide protect soldiers and police in their vests – and on their tanks. Cotton is soft, breathable and inexpensive. Combining the two is sheer genius – even if it wasn’t an easy process. The team bought a package of plain white shirts from the local Wal-Mart and cut them up into strips. They dipped the shirt strips into a solution of boron. An hour later, they baked them in an oven at over 1,000 degrees Celsius for about sixty minutes. The high heat stripped away everything that wasn’t carbon or boron. This combined the two elements into boron carbide.
The resulting fabric is lighter, stronger, tougher and stiffer than the original cotton, but it is still flexible – unlike normal boron carbide armor plates. The new bulletproof T-shirt can also block other hazards such as ultraviolet light from the sun and neutrons emitted by decaying radioactive materials.
If this research continues to be successful, we may one day see new types of protective clothing for police officers. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility that the material could replace the normal metal on the outside of cars and airplanes. This would create lighter and more fuel-efficient methods of transportation. The sky truly is the limit with this research, and I hope to see it progress significantly.
What other uses can you think of for this material? For that matter, when was the last time you came up with a truly unique idea of any sort? Instead of focusing so much on the here and now, let your mind wander to the future once in a while. Imagine the ways in which you could make someone’s life easier, safer or better. You never know what your brain can come up with unless you let it.