Boron carbide is one of the hardest materials on Earth, used by the military in body armor. Unfortunately it's too heavy for daily wear. Until now. Chemists discovered how to turn cotton fibers to boron carbide, creating armor from t-shirts.

Though the process is still experimental, it could lead to extremely flexible, strong body armor that weighs far less than the current models.


According to Chemistry World:

In the research, squares were cut from 100 per cent cotton T-shirts and soaked in a solution of boron powder and a nickel-based catalyst, before being heated to around 1100ºC for four hours under a flow of argon [to prevent the material from] burning. 'Cotton fibres have lots of small pores which can be used to trap the powder,' [lead researcher Xiaodong] Li explains. 'During the process the cotton fibres change to carbon fibres - which react with the boron powder, producing [boron carbide].'

The best part? When scientists convert the t-shirt into armor, it goes from white to black. Now that's what I call totally metal.

via Chemistry World [spotted on PopSci]


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