New York: Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have created new structures that can stretch up to seven times their length while remaining tougher than Kevlar -- often used to make bulletproof vests.
These structures exploit the electromechanical properties of specific nanofibres to absorb up to 98 joules per gram.
Kevlar can absorb up to 80 joules per gram.
The material can reinforce itself at points of high stress and could potentially be used in military airplanes or other defence applications, said the study published in the journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.
The team twisted nanofibre into yarns and coils.
The electricity generated by stretching the twisted nanofibre formed an attraction 10 times stronger than a hydrogen bond, which is considered one of the strongest forces formed between molecules.
"We reproduced this process in nanofibres by manipulating the creation of electric charges to result in a lightweight, flexible, yet strong material," said Majid Minary, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas.
The world needs such materials on a large scale for industrial and defence applications, the study noted.
"Our experiment is proof of the concept that our structures can absorb more energy before failure than the materials conventionally used in bulletproof armours," Minary added.
The next step in the research is to make larger structures out of the yarns and coils.