Padding in sports helmets and other places prevent injuries, including concussions. The lattice may be one new safety-enhancing shape to come for sports, transportation, and the military.
This is Scientific American’s 60-second science. I’m Benjamin Meyers. Got a minute?
Inside current sport helmets, foam padding lowers the force of a hit to the head. But foam may stay squished for a few plays after a hit, leaving players more vulnerable to injury. So researchers are reinventing helmet padding.
The new bouncy mesh keeps its microscopic shape better, hit after hit. It also lowers the force of an impact better than foam padding, so the head should experience less force. The shape and materials of the mesh give it this advantage.
Engineers shine a pattern of UV light into a bath of liquid building blocks, which connects and hardens the building blocks into this criss-cross shape, called a "microlattice."
Unlike foam, this microlattice can then be souped up with lots of protective coatings. It will be years before microlattice helmets are ready for tests on people, but the researchers hope that when it is ready, the padding will be used in sports, cars, space, and defense applications.
Thanks for the minute! For Scientific American’s 60-Second Science, I’m Benjamin Meyers.
Executive Producers: Eliene Augenbraun, Christine Gorman
Writers and Producers: Benjamin Meyers, Sabrina Imbler
Narrator: Benjamin Meyers
Audio Engineer and Editor: Steve Mirsky
Stock Images and Sounds: ©iStock.com, AudioBlocks
Special Thanks: U.C.L.A. School of Engineering; Larry Carlson, U.C.L.A. Engineering Institute of Technological Advancement; Alan Jacobsen; Bamidele Ali, Architected Materials, Inc.; Christopher Giza, U.C.L.A. Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program