Click to viewZetix is a fabric so strong it will resist multiple car bomb blasts without breaking. It absorbs and disperses the energy from explosions thanks to an inner structure so adamantiumtastic it can be used in body armor, window covering, military tents and hurricane defenses—it might even be able to fend off my ex-wife. When not shielding from explosions, it can be used as medical sutures that won't damage body tissue. All of this is thanks to a property that apparently defies the laws of physics:
Zetix is built around the principle of auxetics: objects that actually get fatter the more you stretch them. Though it hurts to think about, as you will discover, it actually makes sense.
To demonstrate how Zetix works, the best thing is to look how a thread behaves. When you jump from a bridge using a bungee cord, the force of gravity acting over your body weight will stretch it as you go down in free fall. While this happens, the cord threads will stretch getting closer together and making the cord get thinner as it expands through a larger distance.
However, if you coil a line around the bungee cord, something that defies logic will happen: the whole structure will get wider as it stretches. As you can see in the image, the line around the bungee cord becomes taut, making the bungee itself flex outward. This principle is called helical-auxetics. When you put two of these threads together, you have what Reed Richards would call an auxetic structure.
When you take this to the micro level, you can create a fabric formed from thousands of these helically wound threads. The resulting global structure is so strong that it can dissipate the energies of multiple blasts without breaking, unlike other materials of this class. In fact, the expanding properties of Zetix give it almost miraculous properties.
According to Dr. Patrick Hook—the creator of the fabric and managing director of Auxetix Ltd.—this fabric is "a design that can save lives" and, more importantly, it can do so repeatedly. "Most blast defenses are only capable of coping with a single explosion event and, once deployed and used, all significant protection is lost," he told Gizmodo. You can see the difference in the first photo, comparing an helical-auxetic fabric with your usual high-strenght blast protective fabric.
This material has other uses beyond terrorist attacks or battle scenarios, said Dr. Hook. The fabrics can "provide sustained protection and gives emergency services extra time to rescue trapped or injured people," and can offer effective protection against natural forces like hurricanes, as well as be deployed in containment systems, military tents, ballistic mosquito nets and body armor, a $2 billionpret-a-porter market.
Another advantage of Zetix is its low cost: other blast-protective textiles are made entirely of very expensive high-performance materials; Zetix uses them too, but in much smaller proportions. Zetix combines the good stuff with "cheaper bulk components" in a 1-to-100 ratio while maintaining it's blast-resistant properties. The cost difference only gets crazier when you remember that this can be used multiple times.
Though the company is in talks with multiple manufacturers to go into mass production, we don't yet know when you'll be able to buy this stuff at Home Depot to protect against the next hurricane or tornado, let alone when Chen will be able to buy underwear made completely from it for his next pantsing session. [Auxetix]