The body armor community generally bases armor design on empirical models that do not directly relate molecular properties to performance. Aramid, aramid copolymers, and UHMWPE fibers are highly oriented, anisotropic fibers that require specialized characterization techniques. In addition, there is limited publicly-available data on degradation mechanisms in these highly aligned systems. Fundamental understanding of the impact of material properties on short and long-term material performance is limited by this lack of available data. Also, interacting factors (i.e. kink band formation) have not been considered in the context of broader performance degradation.
The STG conducts and performs fundamental research to advance the understanding of these high-performance materials, which can be difficult to study due to their high strength and anisotropic molecular orientation. The STG has several projects under this focus area. These projects are:
- Understanding the ageing mechanisms that degrade high-performance materials
- Development of novel measurement tools to understand structure-property relationships in materials
- Investigation of the links between material properties and ballistic performance