A professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington develops advanced helmets to ensure that members of the military are as protected as possible against explosions and other types of attacks.
Ashfaq Adnan received a three-year, $ 1.5 million grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a process using additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, to build helmets with advanced multilayer cellular materials.
He and his team will use improved polymers and nanomaterials to build these layers, which will be made up of complex and optimized structures that, while lightweight, are strong enough to be more effective against impacts by absorbing as much energy as possible. Since directed energy always travels in waves, the helmet will include a layer of materials designed to deflect those waves and dampen their strength, much like stealth technology on airplanes.
The resulting helmets will be lightweight and resistant to blast impacts and directed energy attacks, such as lasers or sound waves. In addition, sensors built into the diapers alert soldiers if they have suffered potentially damaging exposures.
Once the helmet is complete, Adnan and his team will test it against the benchmark helmet used by the military today through its partnership in the Panther Program, a research collaboration hosted by the University of Wisconsin focused on understanding. , detection and prevention. traumatic brain injury.
“I know what it means to make materials lighter, and the knowledge we’ve gained from our recent research gives us a new perspective on how materials can be applied to helmet design principles to create stronger protection. , lighter and more efficient for our fighters, ”Adnan said. “We are in a unique position with our internal ability to study the materials and structures to successfully develop this process and deliver what has been asked of us.
“I sincerely appreciate the ONR for its support for our research. The award will enhance our understanding of building advanced protective gear against the new types of improvised threats our fighters regularly face in combat. “
This is Adnan’s third major grant in this area in 2021, totaling more than $ 3.5 million. In all, he has over $ 5 million in active grants, including:
• a $ 1.1 million grant over three years from ONR to study “smart” sensing elements for protective equipment in a dynamic environment;
• a grant of nearly $ 945,000 from the ONR to study brain damage at the cellular and tissue level; and
• a grant of $ 831,000 from the ONR for the acquisition of high-speed camera equipment and a realistic “phantom” head model.
These grants place Adnan’s research group in a unique position to simultaneously study advanced materials, advanced sensors, and traumatic brain injury mechanisms. Such capabilities will promote efficient and accelerated integration of the knowledge necessary for the design and development of “smart” headsets.
“At the top of a researcher’s rewards is their impact on improving life,” said Erian Armanios, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “Dr. Adnan’s holistic approach to designing the next generation of helmets is aimed at improving quality and saving lives for combatants in combat, workers on construction sites and athletes on the playing field.
– Written by Jeremy Agor, College of Engineering