Tiny, 3D 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 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.
SOURCES- Los Alamos National Lab
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com