Bulletproof vests and other super-strong materials could soon become even tougher and more environmentally friendly at the same time with the help of extra firm, or “al dente,” fibers.
Researchers report in ACS’ journal Macromolecules an innovative way to spin high-performance polyethylene fibers from natural fats, such as oils from olives and peanuts.
These materials, which are powerful enough to stop speeding bullets, can also be used for many other tasks that require strength. They recently played a key role in lifting a sunken ferry from a delicate ecosystem off the coast of Italy. The fibers also can serve as sails to catch wind, ropes for climbing and tying, and thin, sturdy surgical sutures that ensure wound healing.