Orange is the new – armor?

Technology |  2 min. read

An orange goo might just be the new thing in protection for soldiers and athletes (and skateboarders and texters).

D3O® goes in football helmets, body armor, knee pads, cellphone cases – potentially, almost anyone or thing, that needs protection from getting hit by someone or something else.

D3O® starts life in the lab, as a polymer product that uses polyurethane for a backbone structure.  It’s bright orange, and, well, gooey.  Kind of like a liquid taffy.

Pour that into a mold, and you can make a lining for a football player’s helmet, a piece of body armor, a knee or elbow pad, a cellphone case.  It’s not a liquid now, but it is soft and stretchy, like putty.

That makes it flexible and comfortable to wear.  And because you can move freely in it, D3O® makes excellent body armor or sports padding (which also means the people who need it, are more likely to wear it).

But, when something hits D3O®, hard – D3O® gets weird.  Instantly, it hardens and absorbs the impact.

(If you’d like a little science with your goo, D30® does what it does, because it’s a “non-Newtonian [as in Isaac] fluid”.  Meaning unlike most liquids, it defies fundamental physics and becomes thicker under stress.)

Now, it’s not super superhuman.  It won’t stop a bullet by itself.  But put it behind a Kevlar® vest, for example (and more about Kevlar® coming soon), and it helps soak up the force of the bullet.  The Kevlar® stops the round, while the D3O® cushions the soldier or police officer’s body from the force of the impact.

And outside of life and death situations, D3O® is being studied to help reduce the impact of concussions on the playing field, broken phone screens and “boulevard rash” for skateboarders and motorcycle riders.

Back in the lab, the starting point for polymers like D3O®, is generally something from the petrochemical family (and in this case, the goo is usually dispersed in a polyurethane matrix, a petrochemical product made from toluene).

But enough talk.  You can watch orange goo take a beating (and still be ready for more) here on Mashable.