Scientists have created a stretchy gel they claim is five times stronger than carbon steel and could one day be used for bulletproof clothing or to replace hard-wearing joints in humans.
The revolutionary wonder-material was developed by researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan, who have spent the past three years developing the composite.
While consisting mostly of water, being as soft as jelly and as flexible as cloth it has the potential to stop a bullet thanks to glass fibre woven into the hydrogel – the same substance contact lenses are made of.
"It's the strongest soft material ever obtained by human beings... I think it could have very good performance against a bullet," Professor Jian Ping Gong, who leads the team, told CNN.
Due to its lightweight, flexible nature, it could have the ability to be woven into clothing and helmets to create revolutionary new armour and safety equipment.
The team wanted to create a material that was both super-strong yet environmentally friendly. Being made up of 40% water while being 100 times stronger than other hydrogels and 25 times tougher than glass fibre fabric, it manages just that.
"The material has multiple potential applications because of its reliability, durability and flexibility. For example, in addition to fashion and manufacturing uses, it could be used as artificial ligaments and tendons, which are subject to strong load-bearing tensions," Gong said.