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Women and People of Color in Science

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Stronger than Steel

Stronger than Steel

Credit: US Government
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_SWAT.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

These law enforcement officers are suiting up for work. They will be protected by something that has saved the lives of thousands of law enforcement officers. It’s not a weapon or some high-tech gadget. Can you guess what it is?

Amazing But True!

  • It’s Kevlar®, a synthetic fiber that is used to make bulletproof vests. How can a fiber be strong enough to deflect bullets? Believe or not, Kevlar® is five times stronger than steel!
  • The strength and other properties of Kevlar® make it useful for many purposes. In fact, it has been called the most important synthetic organic fiber ever developed.
  • Credit: uberzombie
    Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uberzombie/1029296894
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Bulletproof vests protects against high impact forces such as gunshots [Figure2]


  • The work of a skilled and dedicated chemist led to the discovery of Kevlar®. Learn how Kevlar® was discovered and other ways it is used by watching the following video: http://www.nbclearn.com/chemistrynow/cuecard/55326
  • The discovery of this important fiber is a good example of the wide scope of physical science. 

Explore More

Read more about Kevlar® and its inventor at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Who discovered Kevlar®? When and how was it discovered?
  2. Why is Kevlar® so strong?
  3. Besides great strength, what are some other properties of Kevlar®?
  4. What are some uses of Kevlar®, in addition to bulletproof vests?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: US Government; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_SWAT.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: uberzombie; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/uberzombie/1029296894; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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