HostArt Bell

GuestsBart Kosko

Professor of electrical engineering, Bart Kosko discussed the latest research and technology that could improve protective body armor, as well as other products, by utilizing new nanomaterials.

Kosko said nano-weaves (created from nanotubes) could be used to enhance body armor. He pointed out that current body armor cannot stop high-powered rifle bullets, and even when the armor prevents a bullet from penetrating, the damage sustained by a human wearing it can often be fatal. Kosko equated being shot by a .45 caliber bullet while wearing body armor to getting hit with a baseball at 90 MPH on an unprotected chest. He indicated that "smart" nanofiber body armor would one day be able to adapt to conditions placed on it and adjust accordingly to protect its wearer.

Kosko also talked about potential "super acids" that could be programmed for the selective destruction of matter, dissolving one part of an object while leaving other parts unaffected. When asked about fear of runaway nanobots, or "gray goo," Kosko said the scenario is "a little far-fetched" mainly because the required chain reaction would be difficult to initiate and sustain.