Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Navy researches use of transparent material as armor

Navy researches use of transparent material as armor: The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is working to improve a transparent material for use as bullet-proof windows and for military optics.

The material is called spinel.

"Spinel is actually a mineral; it's magnesium aluminate," said Dr. Jas Sanghera, the researcher leading the NRL project. "The advantage is it's so much tougher, stronger, and harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments -- so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.

"For weight-sensitive platforms-UAVs, head-mounted face shields -- it's a game-changing technology."

The NRL said it developed a low-temperature process, called sintering, that uses a hot press to mold the mined material into transparent sheets. Using shaped presses, the spinel can be made into multiple shapes, such as a wing for an unmanned aerial vehicle.