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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 15:56 GMT
Curtain to prevent blast damage
A "smart" curtain material being developed by a Devon firm and Exeter University could provide a new way to protect people from terrorist attacks.

The auxetic material expands on impact to catch glass and debris blown through windows by an explosion.

The material could also be used in anti-aging treatments, surgical solutions and for the perfect mattress.

The prototype material is to be developed with the help of John Heathcoat & Co from Tiverton, Devon.

Shock wave

The majority of those injured in an attack are hurt by flying debris, according to the team at Exeter University.

Current Kevlar curtains are too dense to allow light in and can tear, whereas auxetic materials respond in the opposite way to pressure, by getting fatter.

Auxetic is derived from the Greek for "increase in size".

Ken Evans, head of the university's School of Engineering, said: "Under tension, a large number of pores open up across the surface of the material, allowing the shockwave through, leaving it intact to catch glass and other debris.

"If we can harness the unique properties of auxetic materials, it is possible that we may be able to create a 'smart' fabric that could instantly react to the pressure generated by a bomb blast."

The material will be tested under blast conditions by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch.


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