Kevlar

Kevlar. Its chemistry and it saves lives.

No its not anything to do with pharmaceuticals, nor is it anything to do with Agriculture.

When you think of chemistry that saves lives you tend to think of drug production, of cures for HIV, medical research, fertilizers, food programs for the meal-nourished. That is why i was surprised to learn that “Kevlar” was not one of these but a polymer with just an incredible amount of hydrogen bonds.

The key to Kevlar’s success in the usage of bullet proof vests is its strength- unlike the flimsy plastic that come to mind when we picture polymers Kevlar is actually 5 times stronger than steel, doesn’t corrode and can withstand extremely high temperatures.

 
The main reason for its strength is down to the large amount of hydrogen bonds in its structure which occur between the Hydrogen on the N-H and the highly electronegative oxygen attached to the carbon chain.

These bonds form all the way along the structure so giving it its intense strength. As well as this Kevlar is also strong due to “aromatic stacking” which is due to the Benzene rings in its polyamide chains.

 

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