Introducing the gel-filled army helmet that will crush bullets as they penetrate it
On the face of it a layer of orange jelly may not sound the best way to protect a soldier's head from high velocity bullets and shrapnel.
But the British Army's standard-issue combat helmet is set to be upgraded with a liner made from gooey miracle gel, which responds to a sudden impact by locking instantly into a solid form - absorbing huge amounts of energy harmlessly.
A UK-based technology company was today celebrating a £100,000 contract from the Ministry of Defence to develop its D3O shock-absorbing gel to help save the lives of British troops fighting on the frontline in Afghanistan.
Richard Palmer, CEO of Blue Divine Ltd, with 'D3O' shock-absorbing material which will be used to line new British Army helmets
The MoD also unveiled its long-term technology plans today and showed off a series of gadgets which could be used on the battlefield of the future.
The gadgets include a 'Future Protected Vehicle', or tank, and futuristic-looking battleships, helicopters and planes.
A highly magnified examination of 'D30' the miracle substance that hardens on impact
The advanced nano-technology of the D3O shock-absorbing gel relies on the bizarre properties shown by 'intelligent molecules' under extreme pressure.
It is already in use in a range of sports and ski wear featuring flexible knee pads or soft hats which instantly stiffen into protective layers when a skier or snowboarder hits the ground hard.
Now the same technology is destined for use in war zones.
Scientists are pushing ahead with design and testing of infantry helmet liners, and the MoD hopes the gel could also soon be used in new types of body armour and other protective kit.
Ultimately the army's existing bulky helmets and heavy, restrictive body armour could be slimmed down thanks to the addition of pockets and layers of jelly.
The future of flying: This MoD design called Novel Air Concept 1 shows what fighter jets of the future may look like
Slick: This design is called Novel Air Concept 2 and shows a variety of flying machines and missiles
The Army's existing Mark 6A combat helmet has been in service for 20 years, and consists of a tough ballistic nylon layer with padded lining inside.
Now the aim is to produce a new liner made from the miracle gel, which will absorb much of the energy of an impact from a bullet - reducing the chances of it penetrating the outer layer and softening the shock to a soldier's skull and neck.
The gel's inventor Richard Palmer, chief executive of D3O Lab, said: 'It's rather like comparing RoboCop and Spider-Man.
Cutting-edge: This design titled Future Protected Vehicle is what a tank may one day look like
'RoboCop is the past - heavily protected but bulky and cumbersome - whereas Spider-Man is more nimble, covert and flexible.
'The gel works at a molecular level. When moved slowly the molecules will slip past each other, but in a high-energy impact they will snag and lock together, becoming solid, and in doing so they absorb energy.'
Future of sea-warfare? This image, titled Novel Air Concept 3, depicts a possible future battleship with helicopters landing on it
The D3O gel was one of a range of new innovations shown off by the MOD today under its new Defence Technology Plan, awarding almost £2million to hi-tech firms to develop better equipment for frontline troops.
Others include the Testudo, a small and rugged wheeled robot which can be carried by troops and then released towards enemy positions to spot enemy fighters and other threats, beaming back images.
Designers are also developing systems to help helicopter pilots land safely in the thick dust clouds thrown up by their rotor blades, and new tiny unmanned aerial drones which will operate in 'swarms', linked by intelligence computers.