Rheology Based Design of Shear Thickening Fluid for Soft Body Armor Applications
The ballistic resistance of high-strength fabrics improves upon impregnation with Shear Thickening Fluids (STFs). The performance of such STF treated fabrics depends on the rheological properties of the STF which in turn are governed by the physicochemical properties of the STF. The present study utilizes rheological characterization of shear thickening silica-polyethylene glycol dispersions (of different material configurations in terms of packing fraction, particle size and continuous phase viscosity) to assess their performance and obtain the best STF material configuration for ballistic body armor applications based on the design criteria proposed herein. The ballistic performance assessment results showed that the STFs with high packing fractions which thicken discontinuously, are highly effective compared to the continuously shear thickening fluids. Furthermore, the use of smaller particle size dispersed phase in the STF formulation was determined to be economical. Also, the use of lower molecular weight dispersion medium was suggested as it allows for a broader working temperature range of the STF. Additionally, the technological issues associated with the development and the practical application of STF-Armor were addressed.