Navy makes armor made of Spinel clear as clay
Navy makes armor made of Spinel clear as clay

Navy makes armor made of Spinel clear as clay

Here we introduce an excellent transparent armor by the Naval Research Laboratory, a manufacturing process to reliably make a strong, transparent ceramic that can also be viewed through infrared cameras, which most commercial glass cant do.


With the completion of this innovation, now the NRL is sharing the technology with industry to scale it up to make giant sheets of transparent, lightweight, bulletproof clay.

Lets look into its content matter. Called Spinel, the material is made in a lab from Synthetic powder. It is shaped into strong, transparent sheets under the right conditions. The NRL has researched and used the material for decades. The previous strategies of production says that crucibles and high heat was used, which resulted in imperfections ended with murky crystalline glass. To reliably produce clear material, NRL used a hot press under a vacuum. Another feature of this method is that it allows the spinel to be pressed into shapes-For example, a dome for a new camera turret or a sloping panel that flush with a wing.

When the military already had the protective methods for its cameras and windows, spinel does it in much lighter way. From an NRL press release about the material :
A “bullet-proof” window today, for example, has layers of plastic and glass perhaps five Inches thick. “If you replaced that with spinel, you’d reduce the weight by a factor of two or more,” says [NRL scientist Jas] Sanghera.

As the material has the newfound clarity, it can also be used in lasers, protecting the components inside a directed energy weapon from the ravages of sea or sand while the laser is still shining through. Now as the development work is done by the Navy with their reliable means of manufacturing the material, its time to hand it off to industry to see what wing of glass-encassed, armored and possibly lasered contraptions they come back with.

Debashree is a software engineer by profession and a tech-lover by passion. An enthusiastic blogger, she's here to spread her love for technology!