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Nacre-like ceramic/polymer laminated composite for use in body-armor applications

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson SC 29634, USA

Topical Section: Soft and Polymeric Materials

Nacre is a biological material constituting the innermost layer of the shells of gastropods and bivalves. It consists of polygonal tablets of aragonite, tessellated to form individual layers and having the adjacent layers as well as the tablets within a layer bonded by a biopolymer. Due to its highly complex hierarchical microstructure, nacre possesses an outstanding combination of mechanical properties, the properties which are far superior to the ones that are predicted using the techniques such as the rule of mixture. In the present work, an attempt is made to model a nacre-like composite armor consisting of boron carbide (B4C) tablets and polyurea tablet/tablet interfaces. The armor is next investigated with respect to impact by a solid right-circular-cylindrical rigid projectile, using a transient non-linear dynamics finite element analysis. The ballistic-impact response and the penetration resistance of the armor is then compared with that of the B4C monolithic armor having an identical areal density. Furthermore, the effect of various nacre microstructural features (e.g. surface profiling, micron-scale asperities, mineral bridges between the overlapping tablets lying in adjacent layers, and B4C nano-crystallinity) on the ballistic-penetration resistance of the composite-armor is investigated in order to identify an optimal nacre-like composite-armor architecture having the largest penetration resistance. The results obtained clearly show that a nacre-like armor possesses a superior penetration resistance relative to its monolithic counterpart, and that the nacre microstructural features considered play a critical role in the armor penetration resistance.
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