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Shock-Dissipating Fractal Cubes Could Forge High-Tech Armor

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Tiny, 3-D printed cubes of plastic, with intricate fractal voids built into them, have proven to be effective at dissipating shockwaves, potentially leading to new types of lightweight armor and structural materials effective against explosions and impacts. “The goal of the work is to manipulate the wave interactions resulting from a shockwave,” said Dana Dattelbaum, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author on a paper to appear in the journal AIP Advances. “The guiding principles for how to do so have not been well defined, certainly less so compared to mechanical deformation of additively manufactured materials. We’re defining those principles, due to advanced, mesoscale manufacturing and design.”

The researchers tested their fractal structures by firing an impactor into them at approximately 670 miles per hour. The structured cubes dissipated the shocks five times better than solid cubes of the same material. Although effective, it’s not clear that the fractal structure is the best shock-dissipating design. The researchers are investigating other void- or interface-based patterns in search of ideal structures to dissipate shocks. New optimization algorithms will guide their work to structures outside of those that consist of regular, repeating structures. Potential applications might include structural supports and protective layers for vehicles, helmets, or other human-wearable protection. The research will be published in the July 2020 issue of AIP Advances.


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