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In Pictures

Fractured Feathers: New Materials for Impact Resistance

The sample of polymer imaged here - about the size of a dime - fractured when placed under stress. The composition of the material is similar to that of Plexiglass, and this type of shattering under pressure can occur in any substance with glasslike physical qualities. This image was captured from a point of view far from the position of impact, which accounts for the interesting “feather-like” appearance and naturally iridescent color. Insights from experiments of this type are helping polymer scientists to develop new materials with improved impact resistance. Learn more

Photo credit: Jared Archer/Lesser Research Group, courtesy of Visual Image Library