Amanda L. Forster, Aaron M. Forster, Joannie W. Chin, Chiao-Chi Lin, Sylvain H. Petit, Kai-Li Kang, Nicholas G. Paulter Jr., Michael A. Riley, Kirk D. Rice
The superior performance of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fi bers is predicated on the development of a highly aligned molecular structure that allows the polymer to exhibit a superior strength in the axial direction of the fi ber. Body armor manufacturers have exploited the inherent strength of these materials, in addition to novel armor design, to develop body armor that continues to defeat ever-increasing threats. However, even an ideal molecular structure will be subjected to a potentially oxidative environment during use, which can reduce the high strength of these fibers, and impact their ability to protect the wearer. In this work, the long term stability of UHMWPE fibers, which are known to undergo a thermooxidative mechanism of degradation, are investigated and the activation energy for this mechanism was calculated. Changes in chemical properties of this material due to aging are also studied.