The Chemistry of Kevlar Body Armor

Poly-para-phenylene terephthalamide, a.k.a. Kevlar, usually does not get the credit it truly deserves because of movies and videogames either making kevlar look like it is a piece of junk like Rook’s deployable R1N “Rhino” Armor in the videogame Tom Clancy’s: Rainbow Six Siege or as impenetrable as the kevlar suit from the movie Rampage made in 2009. I have chosen this topic because I have major interests in things like guns and shields where they either protect you from death or destroy what was meant to be safe. Kevlar body armor should not be easily broken but it also should not give you a makeshift iron man suit. This equipment is what helps our police officers and a good majority of our military survive the toughest of their situations usually in firefights. If our police officers and military did not wear kevlar they would be too easy to kill, which would have huge costs from major increases in crime rates to being overrun by another country.

Composition of ...

The main components about kevlar body armor is its technology, chemicals and materials used to create this life-saver, and the variety of different types of kevlar body armor.

  1. The technology behind kevlar body armor

    1. The technology behind how kevlar body armor stops or extremely slows what it is designed to protect the wearer against is through the way it is designed and what is used to determine what it can stop.

  2. The chemicals and materials used to create kevlar body armor

    1. The chemical formula for a kevlar monomer is C14H14N2O4

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The carboxylic group and amine group molecules has its effects on kevlar body armor. How the material of kevlar body armor provides the absorb and disperse effect is simply created by the way it is designed. The equation to measure the amount of pressure an object takes is Pressure=Force/Area, which helped the creators come up with the design. Force is calculated through the equation Force=(Mass x Gravity).

Chemistry's Role
Kevlar is strong because of both its chemical structure and the way it is made. It starts out as a thin string of molecules, which extend and form straight parallel chains; therefore, the chains create strong hydrogen bonds between the molecular lines which gives kevlar its strength. Studies show that kevlar has 8 to 10 times the strength of steel of equal weight. 

Background Research

There are 3 types of kevlar body armor levels: Ballistic(bullets), edged blade(knife), and spiked weapon(knife+). There are 2 types of ballistic kevlar body armor: “hard” armors(protection against high calibers and AP rounds) and “soft” armors(protection against most handgun and small arms). The ballistic levels of body armor range from NIJ level IIa(weakest) to NIJ level IV(strongest). There are 2 types of edged blade levels: KR1 and KR2. There are 2 types of spiked weapon levels: KR1 & SP1 and KR2 & SP2.

Kevlar is made up of para-aramids which these materials provide flexibility and lightweight so the wearer can comfortably wear the vest and the armor is both hard wearing and highly protective. The specific chemistry involved to make up Kevlar Body Armor is by a reaction that consists of the reactants of the carboxylic group and the amine group molecules producing an AABB polymer formation which is then spun together with sulfuric acid to create a blended liquid that becomes a solid which can be sold in three different forms: powder, pulp, or fiber form.

Bullet proof armor is made to help protect those who work in areas around gun crime where it is more likely to be shot at rather than stabbed.  Stab proof armor is made to help protect those who work in areas around knives and spikes where it is more likely to be stabbed rather than be shot.

The term bulletproof vest is a simpler way of either saying ballistic vests or bullet-resistant vest. A special made vest designed to either stop or immensely slow a variety of bullets that would normally penetrate the body since bulletproof vests are designed with either metal or ceramic plates.

One of the newest technologies for kevlar body armor is simply called “liquid body armor.” The liquid body armor is under development by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The liquid body armor is designed to be light and flexible so that soldiers can be more mobile in the field and to not effect the way they run or the way they aim down sights

The technologies used for body armor have definitely improved from the beginning of body armor. We went from silk to Para-aramid material. Bulletproof vests consist of large ergonomical panels used for maximum protection and comfort, a CoolMAX® Cover to make the vest breathable and lightweight, DuPont Kevlar® Panels so the vest is lightweight and soft and trusted and reliable to the user, side protection to provide more coverage, and a reflective strip to make the vest visible up to 50m. CoolMAX® fabric is very common to find in vest covers because the technology behind it helps reduce the intake of heat produced by the vest and will pull away sweat from the body which allows the wearer to stay at a cool temperature.


  • Different types of kevlar body armor and their protection levels

  • The materials of kevlar body armor

  • Differentiation between stab proof and bullet proof

  • Generalization of what a bulletproof vest is

  • The technologies behind bulletproof kevlar body armor

  • The chemical composition of kevlar and how it works

  • The specifics of what chemicals are in kevlar

About the Author

Ikale Weitman is a junior at Billings Senior High School. He enjoys learning about the truth of myths and legends where others just think of it as a bedtime story or an old trend. His strong suits are in the two subjects that many others struggle at: mathematics and science. He was in chess club as a freshman and has had a year of volunteer work at the Billings Clinic. He enjoys to play sports and outdoor activities during the spring and summer and play videogames and draw throughout autumn and winter, but he likes to listen to music all year round.