Intelligent materials could save soccer stars, athletes from injury

Protection from impact injuries is not the first thing that springs to mind when one considered textiles that are comfortable, flexible and breathable. However, UK company d3o has worked with a sports clothing manufacturer to develop a range of protective gear that has all these properties plus one very special property. d3o's "Mesh" is a perforated textured sheet that can be fashioned into any kind of garment, but crucially has a molecular structure that changes on impact. A blow to the material causes its molecules to temporary cross links with each other, almost instantly stiffening the material and crucially absorbing the energy of the impact. Once the force is removed, Mesh returns to its native state. Soccer players' shin-pads are the obvious first application, but any sport in which impact injuries are common could benefit by providing athletes with protective "padding" that doesn't hinder their movements nor rely on bulky and unsightly padding.