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Tissue Paper To Make Bulletproof Vests?!

By Devaki

A tissue paper, developed from the normally brittle germanium and silicon, can be used to make bulletproof vests, says the new research. It can also be used to harness solar energy.

The tissue paper contains individual germanium nanowires which are as stong as bulletproof Kevlar. They could block the bullets and draw solar energy, if woven into a traditional fabric, says the scientists. They can also be embedded in hard plastics.

"Paper is made of wood fibers compressed together," says Brian Korgel, a scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. "In this case, we took bulk semiconductors, turned them into nanowires and compressed them together to make a material with a tissue paper consistency."

Germanium is generally quite hard and brittle. So the weaving of the bulk material should be done very carefully that it does not break.

But germanium tissue paper will be flexible that it will not break, if bent. The nanowires contained in the tissue papers are quite strong. They have the similar strength-to-weight ratio as bulletproof Kevlar. They are also capable to receive blows, that would have shattered a germanium block.

The development of bulletproof vests from germanium wires may not come easy, reminds the experts. The Kevlar blocks the bullets as the individual fibres contained in it are strong and so is the bond between the fibres, too.

Scientists want to use the semiconducting properties of the new fabric for harnessing solar power.

The research has been appeared in the new paper in ACS Nano.

Story first published: Friday, April 30, 2010, 15:22 [IST]
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