Insurgents in Iraq had figured out they couldn't always knock out an armored vehicle, but they could shoot through the windshield glass.Walter Roy, a materials engineer for the Army, made a special trip to the University of Toledo "to plead with us about this," said Arun Nadarajah, a professor in chemical and environmental engineering.
"It's one thing if someone gives you this idea abstractly, [and] abstractly asks, 'Would you consider doing this?' Then, probably not. But he came and made a very emotional pitch to the group," he said.
"I never met another government official like him. This guy was very different," Mr. Nadarajah said.
It was a dilemma for the research group of eight scientists and a dozen graduate students. For the previous two years, they'd been busy expanding their expertise on carbon nanofibers, which make a human hair look downright obese. Nanofibers were to be the key to creating strong, light armor. But there's a problem with taking that expertise and applying it to the Army's new request: You can't see through carbon. The UT group's work wouldn't transfer easily into making better windshields.
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