6
$\begingroup$

For quite some time I wondered how strong graphene is as armour. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what graphenes is and would no doubt make excellent armour.

I want to know how good it would be and what design of armour is the best with this wonder material.

Would a spaced design work better or just having multiple stacks of graphene layered onto each other? Let’s assume armour for a solider in the field. No concealed and armoured jackets for now.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ It'd be 2x as good as nowadays vests: newscientist.com/article/… $\endgroup$ – Renan Oct 20 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ While it's not graphene, just carbon-fiber, a reference point could be this armor. In short, while it can only stop low-energy firearms, it can absorb melee weapon blows so much better, powerful firearms with AP bullets are still the way to go to defeating it. It wasn't designed to stop bullets, though. $\endgroup$ – Alice Oct 20 at 6:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Renan Actually, it's only twice as good if you use single-layer graphene, so probably for some more complex structure it would be even better. Or maybe not. $\endgroup$ – Alice Oct 20 at 6:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @daniel After consulting with other moderators, I removed the extra question from your post. Focusing on just one question will get you better answers. Feel free to post your second question later as a follow up, after this one gets answered. "How is warfare affected when the armour has (temporally) out paced guns. How can guns compete?" ... but I suspect there are several questions already on the forum with good answers to this specific point. You may want to search a bit before posting. WELCOME TO WORLDBUILDING! :-) $\endgroup$ – SRM - Reinstate Monica Oct 20 at 15:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good to know in the future. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Seraphim Oct 20 at 16:31
7
$\begingroup$

The tricky thing about graphene is that it is really, really, thin. It only takes a few sheets of graphene to out-perform a kevlar vest, but you could in theory make it a million or even a billion layers thick, and still make a quite comfortably thin and light weight armor material. In other words, you can make it as much stronger than modern armor as you want as long as you are willing to spend the time and money making it that thick.

The real limitation is how much force can be transferred through it. Once you get past a certain thickness, the graphene will hold up against almost anything, but the person inside will be turned into blood pudding from the impact force. This means that the best design will be to layer the graphene over whatever distributes the impact the best. Currently non-newtonian fluids offer the best impact distribution for their weight.

In short, you are looking at what modern body armor already looks like, just with a hundred or so layers of graphene to reinforce it.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Correct me if I'm wrong, but the graphene plating would be replacing the ceramic stuff? $\endgroup$ – Gio Oct 21 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ You need to add some layer with non newtonian fluids to absorb the energy and distribute it. Otherwise you get a cracked rib. You can buy shock absorber inlays for common armor. $\endgroup$ – Gustavo Oct 21 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Gio graphene has incredible tensile strength making it very hard to penetrate, but it is not ridgid. Think of it more like a super thin cloth To distribute the impact, you need something ridgid under it like a ceramic plate or a non-newtonian fluid as Gustavo suggests. Otherwise, the graphene will conically deform and penetrate into you around the bullet. The bullet would not pierce the graphene, but it may not need to to be able to kill you. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Oct 21 at 21:32
2
$\begingroup$

According to furturism.com, you would only need two layers of graphene to create an armor that was as hard as diamond (and can block bullets).

https://futurism.com/two-layers-graphene-make-diamond-hard-armor-stop-bullet

This article talks about some experimentation scientists have been doing on graphene layers. (They have also found out it is is a lot more effective than kevlar)

https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/195089-graphene-body-armor-twice-the-stopping-power-of-kevlar-at-a-fraction-of-the-weight

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.