The work presented here demonstrates using a novel, field-responsive nanocomposite based on shear thickening fluids (STFs) as responsive protective materials with superior damping and energy adsorption properties. Peak forces and accelerations measured using an instrumented Instron™ drop tower demonstrate that STF nanocomposite prototypes and impact foam taken from a commercial football helmet have similar performance for low kinetic energy impacts. However, tests with STF nanocomposite samples exhibit significantly reduced peak acceleration and peak force for impacts above 15 J. Thus, the STF containing nanocomposite material provides improved energy adsorption upon impact as compared to the commercial foam. These tests suggest that STF nanocomposite materials have promising potential as novel energy dissipating components in personal protective equipment.

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