Non-Newtonian fluids are fluids that exhibit the qualities of a solid under rapid pressure but function as a liquid under long duration pressures.

Is it possible, that an animal skin or some sort of plant fiber could exhibit similar properties and becomes rigid on impact but remain flexible when resting?

How would this function?

What disadvantages would this armor have if it is plausible?

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I think that this already exists and they outline some weaknesses: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D3o and popsci.com/beanie/article/2006-02/… $\endgroup$
    – AstroDan
    Jun 28, 2016 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ I cannot come up with such a material so I gave a answer which provides a alternative instead, which is already existing(and probably much more effective) $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2016 at 16:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Tony. I have made an edit to your post to make it more clear and resolve confusion over what you are asking. If my edits have altered your question such that it isn't matching your intent please feel free to roll back the change. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For more information on the site please check out the help center and once you hit 20 rep feel free to visit us in Worldbuilding Chat $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The armor you're describing sounds like the personal shield worn in the Dune novels. There were two downsides of those shields. 1) Interaction with a laser weapon caused an explosion resembling a nuclear bomb. 2) Attracted sandworms. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jun 29, 2016 at 19:28

2 Answers 2


Can this be pulled of biologically...maybe but probably not.

Could a non-Newtonian fluid be used in armor...yes.

Should you use an NNF in armor...probably not.

  1. The biology idea. Here's the problem with the idea. Fluids in any body be it plant or animal are a transfer medium for everything from energy to waste to nutrients. A NNF doesn't fulfill this function effectively as it doesn't really act like a fluid and would make a terrible transfer medium...basically its just too thick.

That being said (and I am not sure how the biology would work here) you could have a creature whose fat is actually a NNF contained within sacs under the skin. The NNF would have to be contained in all three dimensions otherwise it would ooze down to the bottom of the body. This would make the most sense in a polar/cold region as I would hazard a guess that NNFs are good insulators.

So you'd need some sort of gland...or pump or something in the creature that creates a NNF and pumps it into these sacs. Far fetched maybe but it could probably be done.

It simply won't work in plants... they wouldn't be able to function with a NNF

  1. You could absolutely use a NNF in armor. Ignoring the biology side for a moment I would suggest you could have a hard casing (of the ballistic material of your choice) that is hollow and the cavity within is filled by a NNF.

  2. I am not sure how good the stopping power of NNFs are...at least in the real world. It could be made feasible with a super durable imaginary NNF. One additional concern would be weight. Fluids are dense...obviously. More density is good BUT weight is also a consideration, heavier armor is bad for mobility and endurance.

In short you would have to design something that:

  • Has better stopping power than modern ballistic defense systems
  • Is strong enough to validate the added wegiht

It's not just possible, it's already a thing.

Scientists have developed a non-Newtonian liquid so effective that when implemented into body armour, can not only stop a bullet, but prevent the shockwave from causing potentially lethal internal damage.

Called a Shear-Thickening-Fluid (STF), the liquid was developed by Polish company Moratex and its inventors at the Military Institute of Armament Technology in Warsaw.

Non-Newtonian liquids certainly aren’t new, however the Polish company believes that it has finally perfected the composition needed to create a military-ready product.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .