Protective equipment from Hunan University has a two layer design that makes it flexible and impact-resistant.


  • Flexible
  • Impact-resistant


  • Armor and protection

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

  • Goal 12: Responsible Production & Consumption

The Challenge

Helmets and protective equipment are designed to protect humans from injuries. However, they are often made of plastic and styrofoam, which take a long time to decompose and have a significant environmental impact.

Innovation Details

The protective equipment is a two-layered structure consisting of an outer layer of hard-ceramic and an inner layer of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene-based material. The composite scales are arranged in a hierarchical design similar to fish scales, and are supported by back layers of Kevlar fabrics. This design helps to protect from significant impacts, including bullets and other high-impact materials.

Biological Model

The scales on teleost fish provide high resistance to penetration due to their double-layer structure. The outer bony layer withstands most of the impact from bites and scratches, and dissipates the force to protect the softer collagen layer underneath. Any impact that makes it to the collagen layer is further resisted by the woven pattern of its fibers, which stretch under pressure to dissipate impact.