Lightweight, High Performance Materials for Modern Military Needs

Jennifer Lynch-Branzoi, Thomas Nosker
Rutgers University, New Jersey, United States

Keywords: Lightweight Materials, High Stiffness, High Impact Strength, Low Cost, Scalable

There is an unmet US military need for lightweight components to reduce warfighter loads, vehicle mass, and fuel consumption while providing adequate ballistic and blast protection. We have developed a unique method to exfoliate mined graphite into graphene in situ within molten polymers to provide lightweight, high performance graphene polymer matrix composites (G-PMCs). These G-PMCs offer high modulus and high impact strength at reduced weight and costs relative to traditional materials and carbon fiber polymer matrix composites. These lightweight, high performance G-PMCs are produced using a new, versatile, low cost, and scalable process with automated mass production of complex shapes and may replace much heavier metals in a broad array of military applications. This materials substitution offers cost and weight savings in a particular application, operational energy cost savings since fuel costs are lowered, and longer service lifetime since these materials are corrosion resistant. Some potential applications include: lightweight vehicular armor that serves as the structural component while providing ballistic protection, lightweight personnel armor that would allow reduced combat load weight and increased ammunition per soldier, light weight UAVs that offer higher payloads and longer loitering times, lightweight munitions, and lightweight tactical bridges.