• Personal protective equipmentBulletproof origami shield to protect law enforcement

    Engineering professors have created an origami-inspired, lightweight bulletproof shield that can protect law enforcement from gunfire. The new barrier can be folded compactly when not in use, making it easier to transport and deploy. When expanded — which takes only five seconds — it can provide cover for officers and stop bullets from several types of handguns. The ballistic barrier is made of twelve layers of Kevlar.

  • Personal protection equipmentFish scales inspire protective wear

    For several years, researchers have been trying to replicate the kind of protection combined with flexibility offered by certain kinds of animal scales. Their goal is to create protective gloves that are both resistant to piercing and still flexible enough. After five years of work, they believe they have done it. The solution came when they started looking more closely at the scales of an alligator gar.

  • Personal protective equipmentHair strength inspires new materials for body armor

    In a new study, researchers investigate why hair is incredibly strong and resistant to breaking. The findings could lead to the development of new materials for body armor and help cosmetic manufacturers create better hair care products.

  • FirefightersThermal sensor provides warning for firefighter safety

    The conditions inside a burning building are perilous and can change rapidly. For firefighters searching for people trapped within a burning building, these risks can be exacerbated in a matter of seconds as exposure to high temperature may cause their personal protective equipment (PPE) to fail. This is particularly true in the presence of infrared radiation, which can rapidly increase the temperature of a firefighter’s environment without warning. DHS S&T  is now working with partners to develop the Burn Saver Thermal Sensor, a battery-powered device that will be carried by firefighters and detects thermal changes in their operating environments.

  • Personal protective equipment“Second skin” uniform protects soldiers from biological, chemical agents in the field

    In work that aims to protect soldiers from biological and chemical threats, scientists have created a material that is highly breathable yet protective from biological agents. This material is the first key component of futuristic smart uniforms that also will respond to and protect from environmental chemical hazards.

  • Personal protection equipmentCotton candy machine inspires lighter bullet proof vests, and more

    It is “boots on the ground” in this Harvard lab where the researchers are on a mission to protect U.S. troops on the battlefield. Researchersare developing next generation nanofibers at the Harvard Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC). The researchers draw their inspiration from the cotton candy machine. They use their own version of that technology to spin a wide range of polymers, both natural and synthetic, into new fabrics and materials for military use.

  • Personal protection equipmentTougher steel could be used for body armor, shields for satellites

    A team of engineers has developed and tested a type of steel with a record-breaking ability to withstand an impact without deforming permanently. The new steel alloy could be used in a wide range of applications, from drill bits, to body armor for soldiers, to meteor-resistant casings for satellites.

  • FirefightingProtecting firefighters from harm

    If there is anything common among the 1.1 million firefighters — both career and volunteer — serving in the United States, it is that at any moment, they may be required to put their lives on the line to protect people and property from disaster. But who helps protect these dedicated public servants from the on-the-job dangers they face?

  • Personal protection equipmentFibers from natural fats make bulletproof vests stronger and greener

    Bulletproof vests and other super-strong materials could soon become even tougher and more environmentally friendly at the same time with the help of extra firm, or “al dente,” fibers. These materials, which are powerful enough to stop speeding bullets, can also be used for many other tasks that require strength.

  • Personal protective equipmentWireless technology enables advanced up protective clothing

    Combining the latest advances in sensor and wireless technology with comfortable protective clothing has opened up new partnership possibilities across a range of sectors. Numerous end users stand to benefit from the inclusion of smart technology in protective clothing. One French start-up has pioneered intelligent active protection systems for ski racers. Further advances may see the use of advanced protective clothing by soldiers and first responders.

  • Personal protective equipmentClothing that guards against chemical warfare agents

    Recent reports of chemical weapons attacks in the Middle East underscore the need for new ways to guard against their toxic effects. Scientists report that a new hydrogel coating that neutralizes both mustard gas and nerve agent VX. It could someday be applied to materials such as clothing and paint.

  • EMS personnelCritics question the need to equip EMS personnel with protective gear

    The longer a wounded victim on a scene of a crime must wait for medical treatment, the lower the likelihood of that victim’s survival. Medical personal, however, must wait until the police secure the scene before they are allowed to approach the wounded. More and more EMS units now carry Kevlar helmets and bullet-proof vests with them so they can rush to help the wounded even if the crime scene is not completely secured. Some residents of San Leandro, California say, however, that the decision by the city council to purchase an armored vehicle and convert it into an armored ambulance is going too far.

  • Personal protection equipmentBoxfish shell inspires new materials for body armor

    The boxfish’s unique armor draws its strength from hexagon-shaped scales and the connections between them, engineers have found. The engineers say that the structure of the boxfish could serve as inspiration for body armor, robots, and even flexible electronics.

  • In the trenchesImproved body armor saves money

    The efforts of researchers have now culminated in the first deliveries of more than 148,000 Generation III Improved Outer Tactical Vest, or Gen III IOTV, body armor conversion kits, acquired at approximately half the cost of procuring new systems — $791 versus $413. Best practices from government and industry, soldier feedback, and creative thinking allowed the team to chart a path to upgrade older versions of the IOTV at half the cost of new Gen IIIs.

  • Personal protective equipmentNew foam technology to lead to better protective equipment

    Foam. We wear it. We sit on it. We sleep on it. We even use it to protect ourselves. Whether it is a football helmet, hospital bed, knee pad, or body armor, the foam it contains plays a critical role in making that product both comfortable and safe. Can that foam, however, be transformed into something significantly better, safer and more comfortable? An FSU researcher has developed a brand new, high-performing auxetic foam with a unique ability to get thicker, rather than thinner, when stretched. In practical terms, this counter-intuitive behavior, totally opposite to that of conventional foam, leads to many enhanced materials properties including a better and more comfortable fit that adjusts on the fly.