SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  A10-079 (Army)
Title:  Smart Body Armor Active Protection System
Research & Technical Areas:  Materials/Processes

Acquisition Program:  
 The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals, their country of origin, and what tasks each would accomplish in the statement of work in accordance with section 3.5.b.(7) of the solicitation.
  Objective:  This work is aimed at designing body armor which will detect the direction of azimuth of an incoming/impinging impact and activate a system to block, attenuate, and diffuse shock wave induced kinetic energy, thereby preventing transfer of net momenta to sensitive body organs and to the epidermal regions in line with these organs.
  Description:  This work is aimed at designing body armor which will detect the direction of azimuth of incoming/impinging impact using sensors which will active the directed release of a material from nearby reservoirs to an interior position so as to block, attenuate, and diffuse shock wave induced kinetic energy, thereby preventing transfer of net momenta to sensitive body organs and to the epidermal regions in line with these organs. This cushioning and critical damping intervening action (akin to a series of mini-airbags) will prevent damage by shock waves to the hydrogen-bonding network of epidermal tissue -- this bonding being extremely weak and short-lived, and having thus the requirement for fast re-construction without permanent damage. The water molecules that sheath the phosopholipid bi-layer (hydrophyllic extremities of fatty acids) undergo a transition in response to perturbation-induced impact, and this post impact state has properties more akin to those of ice, rather than those of liquid H2O. The net result is that the impact conveys the properties of a rigid bar collision rather than a collision with a liquid state of matter. The collision effect can also generate a tautomeric transition in bio-molecules that associate with water, such as the nucleic acid adenine, and this can lead to genetic defects if cells are adversely affected by the impact and net momenta transfer. The enhanced nano-ordering occurs very rapidly, in millisecond time-frame. The possible long-term effects of small-arms induced shock wave impact to epidermal layers of the skin can ultimately become cancerous lesions, and if not treated sufficiently early, can lead to death of cells due to erratic proliferation. The probability for death will be accelerated if excess Ca 2+ ions associate with the damaged cells . The dynamic action response zones of the smart body-armor will concentrate on protecting the heart, liver, and small intestine of the person wearing the armor. In this work, a coupling of a very fast switching material must be employed, in conjuction with a fast-jet system so as to very quickly interrupt/interdict the shock wave that is produced by the small arms impact. The decision to execute this protection-enhancing deployment system, and its actual execution and functioning, must occur in a very short period of time. The decision to initiate air bag deployment is currently made in a time period of 15-30 milliseconds, and the air bag is fully deployed within 60-80 milliseconds after the onset of a crash impact. Comparatively, the body armor smart-response must be executed in a shorter time interval to prevent penetration of a round, and to significantly attenuate the leading edge of a shock wave. Considering the average velocity of sound is 3000 m/sec in the combination of void-air-space and fabric in the smart body-armor, a sound wave would travel 300 cm in 1 millisecond. Thus a response time in the microsecond range would be favored to interrupt and attenuate a shock wave, especially the leading edge. This requires a very fast switching-triggering system to be employed in the smart armor design (2). The switching-triggering strategy would be to cascade sensing, switching, and actuator devices so that the leading edge of the impact sensor output signal would serve as the input of a very fast switching device. The consequent output signal would serve to trigger the actuator/generator device that releases the directed mass through the conduit system to the appropriate circular disk vulnerability region where the input has occurred or will imminently occur.

  PHASE I: TRL 2-3 Phase I includes characterization of subsystems, materials, and functionality of the proposed body armor system. This shall include characterization of inhomgeneity and non-isotropicity of fabrics and armor plates, impact and/or bow wave detectors- and determination of the optimal sensor system. Fast switch coupling will then be delineated. Interdicting materials research will focus on fast response mass-transfer interdicting materials. Finally, the propelling system of interdicting material will be specified. At the conclusion of Phase I, a design review will be conducted. Deliverable: Written report detailing all work perfromed, along with Phase II plan.
  PHASE II: TRL3-4 Phase II involves design of the optimal integration of all the sub-systems into the smart body-armor, allowing the system to be bread-boarded and subsequently brass-boarded- including the development of counter-countermeasures, if deemed appropriate, after studying effectiveness of enemy attempts at the neutralizing of the intelligence of the body armor. Individual elements for the body armor system resulting from the Phase I design review will be tested and integrated into a working prototype to be tested in a relevant environment. Deliverable: Full report including design review, test results, and demonstration of working prototype.

  PHASE III: TRL 4-6 Ultimate Specific Military and Commercial Applications: The military application is to protect first-wave combat Army infantry troops, and marines, as well as to protect counter-insurgent and security personnel, and helicopter pilots. The commercial applications are to protect police personnel, especially SWAT teams from fire from perpetrators, FBI teams, and other specialized units. The Phase II prototype will be refined for brassboard testing and commercialization. Deliverable: Full report, along with all test results and demonstration of brassboard vehicle in a relevant environment.

  References:  ote: The topic author will provide these references to all who request them. contact Dr. Mark Mentzer at mark.mentzer@us.army.mil or (410) 278-3076 1. M.A. Mentzer and G.C. Vezzoli, Smart Body Armor Investigation, White Paper, August 2009, available through ATC/POD/TI/Optical Engineering Branch. 2. G. C. Vezzoli, "Increase in nano-order of liquid H2O( induced by chemical, charge, and mechanical stimuli: relationship to water-DNA system", Mat. Res. Innov. 11(2), 95-105 (2007) 3. L-3 Communications Final Report to Commander, U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, Fort Detrick, MD: Body Armor Blunt Trauma Assessment, November 2006 4. T. Boudou, J. Ohayon, C. Picart, R. Pettigrew, P. Tracqui, "Nonlinear elastic properties of polyacrylamide gels: Implications for quantification of cellular forces", Biorheology 46(3), 191-205, 2009.

Keywords:  body armor, high speed air bags, soldier protection, fast switching materials, biolethality, body armor materials, protective armor, smart body armor, active protection body armor

Questions and Answers:
Q: Phase one seems too broad for our "small business" organization: optimal sensor systems, fast switch coupling, fast response mass-transfer materials and propelling systems. If possible can Phase I be further segmented?
A: Certainly you are welcome to submit a proposal that segments the work into smaller modules. Responses will of course be evaluated with respect to the scope requested. Perhaps you can partner with the appropriate organization(s) in order to address the entire scope.
Q: Might our small business be able to provide research in the area of propelling systems and fluid dynamics? The overall phase one for us is too broad as it encompasses several areas including: fabrics, armor plates, sensors, fast switch coupling, mass-transfer interdicting materials and finally propelling systems.
A: As stated before- certainly you are welcome to submit a proposal that segments the work into smaller modules. Responses will of course be evaluated with respect to the scope requested. Perhaps you can partner with the appropriate organization(s) in order to address the entire scope.
Q: Must interdicting materials research focus on fast response mass-transfer interdicting materials if the goal is to diffuse shock wave from kinetic energy?
A: No- that was just a suggested possibility.

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