Boron Carbide Ceramic Armor Improves With Silicon Addition

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boron carbide ceramic armor has become one of the most popular bullet-resistant materials today. Its combination of hardness and low density is ideal for lightweight mobile body armor systems.

In addition, boron carbide ceramics are also used for neutron shielding applications in the nuclear industry.

However, while boron carbide is extremely powerful and durable, it can also be susceptible to high-speed bullet damage. That’s why many researchers are searching for a new, more reliable material to protect against high-speed threats.

A group of Texas A&M University researchers have found that adding a small amount of silicon to boron carbide can make the material significantly less brittle to high-speed impacts, improving its durability and resistance.

By adding a tiny quantity of silicon, they were able to reduce phase transformation by 30%, making boron carbide less prone to indentation and fracture when impacted with high-velocity projectiles. That’s a big improvement, and it could mean a significant boost to modern armor performance.

Currently, boron carbide is the most common material for body armor in military and law enforcement environments. It’s also used in civilian applications such as bulletproof vests and seatbelts that keep pilots safe while flying planes.

Besides boron carbide, other strong ceramics are being tested towards armor applications as well, including aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and cubic boron nitride. All of these have a number of unique properties that may make them superior to boron carbide in some ways. But, they are also much more expensive to process and sinter than boron carbide.

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