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The .50 BMG is a very powerful round with a lot of penetrating power. I want to survive it.

I did some research on my own, I'm just not sure how to combine these in a way to effectively stop a .50 BMG AP (black tip) round.

My research:

https://phys.org/news/2016-04-metallic-glass-secret-almostbut-quiteunstructured.html

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/bodyarmor.php#id--Physical_Armor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbothane

http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Mantis_shrimp_inspires_next_generation_of_ultra_strong_materials_999.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_matrix_composite

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_foam#Composites

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_depth

As you can see it's a hot mess with everything thrown in the mix: shock absorbers, liquid armor, Liquid Ocelot, bulk metallic glasses, and some physics. I don't know which one would be best.


The armor plate should be:

  • As light as possible (invincibility needs both armor and speed)
  • Capable of stopping .50 BMG AP rounds
  • Capable of stopping them multiple times at the same location, if possible

Unobtainium:

  • Using the magic of nanomachines, you can build stuff up from the atomic level ( i.e: carbon nanotubes are fine)
  • For the time being, material, financial, and energy costs don't matter.
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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 8 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ So why is this a world building question again? $\endgroup$ – Mr.J Feb 9 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.J How many .50 cal resistant graphene armors have you seen in your life? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 9 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles none, but this does not tackle anything that is world building related, the best place to ask this question is either sci fci SE, or physics SE. $\endgroup$ – Mr.J Feb 9 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Mr.J This armor is a part of my setting, I just didn't want to bother you with UNIMPORTANT FLUFF. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 9 at 8:24
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Use ceramic plates just like Infantry body armor that can stop a 7.62 NATO round, but much thicker. This causes the weight of the ceramic to be excessive for any normal individual wearing it, which requires a robotic exoskeleton to help with the carrying part. Invest your money in battery technology for the exoskeleton, not "unobtanium". Make the ceramic plates easy to replace, since they do tend to crack. Infantry ones usually fit into a pocket in a nylon vest. You can completely encase a person in enough armor to stop anything up to a vehicle mounted weapon in this way (obviously if they are aiming a 30mm or an ATGM at you, you still have problems).

We have the technology today to make the armor, very sophisticated robotic exoskeletons, and the necessary electronic controls. We only lack a good power supply (which has to be quiet for it to be useful to infantry).

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    $\begingroup$ Lithium-Air Battery? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 8 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ Quiet and cold... the problem with today's retail batteries (who knows what the military can do?) is that they get hot when recharged or drawn upon too quickly, putting a big thermal bullseye on your body. $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 8 at 22:08
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    $\begingroup$ Heat doesn't strike me as an insurmountable issue, but weight might be. You don't want to end up in a "tyranny of the battery equation" situation where you're carrying more batteries so that you can carry your batteries... $\endgroup$ – Cadence Feb 9 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly, a very small internal combustion engine is a great solution except for the noise it makes. The heat can be dispersed in a way that doesn't give off much signature. Maybe something like a tiny rotary engine inside a baffled muffler housing that suppresses the sound and disperses the heat. $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Feb 9 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ ATGMs are easy, the Hand of God will strike them down for me. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles 2 days ago
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Use Diamene: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.graphene-info.com/new-graphene-material-called-diamene-switches-flexible-harder-diamond-upon-impact%3famp

It is light, malleable and wearable but once something hits it becomes extremely hard. Use a few hundred layers that are inlaid into a spidersilk-like substance as such substances are also light, malleable and extremely durable. This helps keep the fragments of Graphene (if there are some) to stay in place, since Graphene's edges are very sharp you dont want it to be flying about. The top layer being spidersilk also helps spread the impact a little before it reaches the Graphene.

To make the most of these layers, you first have the spidersilk at the top. Spidersilk is used instead of Kevlar because it's much stronger (1, 2, mentions it can be 10 times stronger than Kevlar, 520 MJ /M3). Then you have alternating layters of diamene and Carbon Nanotubes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_nanotube) with a last layer of spidersilk finishing it off again. These are thinner than spidersilk allowing more layers of diamene and they provide the same lightweight, flexibility, support and strength while seperating the diamene layers from each other. Better yet, the optimal size of a CNT can fit another CNT inside which is slightly less strong but it would add to the total strength. With a couple of hundred of these layers you are sure to stop several .50 BMG shots. Which leaves the kinetic energy to be disposed off:

You could augment this with non-newtonian fluids (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_Armor), but in this case the fluids would only function as shock absorbers to reduce the kinetic impact before it reaches the body. But I would use a different method, mainly that of wheels. When a wheel hits something the metal frame is protected by the air in the rubber wheel (amongst other things). This impact causes an increase in pressure of the air and this is evenly divided over the wheel's frame. The armor would carry a liquid (probably an oil) that absorbs a lot of kinetic energy when it is pressurized. This is worn as a middle/bottom layer which rests on a frame. Whenever a bullet impacts the armour a portion of the energy is absorbed, turned into pressure and evenly divided over the frame so the pressure doesnt squeeze the user. It will never soak up the full kinetic force, but it will definitely spread the force even more than the other layers and absorb some to boot.

1: https://openi.nlm.nih.gov/detailedresult.php?img=PMC2939878_pone.0011234.g004&req=4 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin%27s_bark_spider

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  • $\begingroup$ It only works on two, though, no more, no less. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 8 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Hence the "inlaid into a spidersilk-like substance" part. 1 layer of spider silk, 2 layers of Diamene, 1 more of silk, 2 more of Diamene, repeat a couple hundred times ... $\endgroup$ – Dalila Feb 8 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles Eh, since diamene is 2 atom layers thick and I mention you can use a FEW HUNDRED LAYERS, it would work on a few hundred shots, or maybe a dozen or so depending on how many it shatters with each impact. Personally rather than just Diamene layers with spider silk I would use one layer of Diamene, then a layer of CNT's to provide elasticity, strength and spread the force, then another layer. CNT's are thinner than spidersilk threads. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Feb 8 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ And why use spider silk? Kevlar is stronger, kevlar dipped into oobleck is the strongest. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 8 at 21:17
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    $\begingroup$ The problem is thickness, Diamine may be hard but it is so thin you can still push your finger through it, and it can't be made thicker. layering it does not actually help it since you need millions of layers, which results in massive bulk. its like having steel that can only exist as foil and gets really weak if it touches. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 9 at 3:51
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Futuristic material science and medieval suits of armor

Check out this article about nanotech-fabricated metal. Note this sentence: "A block of titanium where every atom was perfectly aligned with its neighbors would be ten times stronger than what can currently be produced."

You specifically mentioned this kind of nano-fabrication as a possibility. Well, it will work. Here's somebody shooting a titanium plate. It stops 50-cals. Even (just barely) an armor-piercing round.

People stopped wearing suits of armor because penetrating power simply grew too large. Armor would have had to be so thick it became impractically heavy.

But a block of metal the size of the hunk in that video, that weighed a tenth as much? That's the same as being a tenth the thickness. That would be similar to the thickness of a suit of armor.

In other words, a suit of armor could have metal as thick as the plate in that video, and weigh the same as a normal suit of armor. Which we know people used to wear. It would be very awkward to move around in (and would require a lot of skill to be able to forge such a thing so the joint would even be able to move at all) but it could be done.

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    $\begingroup$ Guess I can go that route as well, though I'd still have to layer it, as every shot would fck over the atomic alignment and weaken the plates. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 10 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Mephistopheles: How about some sort of self-healing technology built in? Labs are just now beginning to produce materials that can do it. In your future, maybe they figured out how to do it with structurally-aligned titanium. $\endgroup$ – J.D. Ray Feb 10 at 16:50
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The kinetic energy from the impact of a .50 BMG, particularly at close range, is huge. Use it. Per @Demigan's answer above, put in some mechanism to absorb the energy. But that energy will have to be dissipated or contained in some manner. Address @JBiggs concerns about battery life by using the energy to re-charge the batteries that help move the soldier around.

EDIT: The base of the armor kit should be an electrically-driven (e.g. motorized) “exoskeleton” (external to the human, internal to the armor), with power supplied by batteries. The armor plates should be mounted on actuators that re-direct the energy into a hydraulic fluid that is routed, via tubes (flexible at the joints) to a central hydrodynamic generator that turns the hydraulic energy into electricity. Movement in the armor, driven by the electric motors, would cause the hydrodynamic actuators to move, thus causing efficiency-sapping problems over time. Frequent re-charges of the batteries would overcome this, as would getting shot. It makes for an interesting problem space.

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    $\begingroup$ This is almost an answer, but not quite. It's more of a connecting comment to two other answers. Can you put a bit more time into this by explaining how to absorb, store, and reuse the energy of the bullet? $\endgroup$ – JBH Feb 8 at 22:05
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I'll be as basic as I can. Ballistics Gel. You can make this stuff with common gelatin and it can stop a handgun bullet. I'm sure if you compacted it enough you would have something super effective.

Ballistic Gel (how to): https://www.instructables.com/id/Ballistic-Gel/

Ballistic Gel is known to DISPERSE the energy throughout itself. A bullet will sharply go through the gel at the beginning but then it will come to a complete stop.

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    $\begingroup$ You're basically suggesting me to use an artificial meatshield. I want powered armor and supersoldiers, not Lady Gaga. Besides, water cannot really be compressed further, and it'd still weigh a lot. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 9 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ This would be incredibly bulky for a soldier to wear. He'd probably have to have two foot thick slabs all around his body, and that would likely end up being so much gel that he would be too heavy to move. $\endgroup$ – JBiggs Feb 9 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ Also, dispersing the energy within itself doesn’t deal with the fact that the energy has to eventually go somewhere. If it’s dissipated as heat, fine, but how much heat is that? $\endgroup$ – J.D. Ray Feb 10 at 16:46

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