Stephanie Kwolek, the brain behind the 'stronger than steel' substance called Kevlar, passed away last week aged 90. Her Kevlar is best known as the material used to make bulletproof jackets.
A chemist by profession, Kwolek developed Kevlar while researching a new synthetic substance that offered an alternative to metal reinforcements that automobiles in the 1960's came with. Kwolek was working on developing a robust but lighter fibre that could be used as fuel-efficient car tyre reinforcements.
Kwolek's Kevlar, that she developed in the process, would revolutionise the entire "personal armour" concept years later.
Kevlar is a liquid crystalline polymer that is lightweight, and possesses robustness that cannot be easily destroyed. Kevlar fibres are used in the manufacture of bullet-proof vests as these are said to be five times stronger than steel.
Apart from use in personalised armour, Kevlar also finds application across categories ranging from fibre-optic cables to sports accessories.
However, Kevlar has become synonymous with protective body suits to a great degree. Recently, the US army commissioned a real-life Iron Man like suit termed the 'Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit' (Talos) for use by its soldiers.
Talos integrates the endurance property of Kevlar and nanotechnology, to offer enhanced body protection and endurance.
Talos can be checked out in action, in the video below.