The team, led by Prof Subhash Anand of the Centre for Materials Research and Innovation (CMRI), has already had a prototype successfully tested by the US military.
The protective vest currently used is effective if its wearer is attacked from the front or behind, but the sides are vulnerable. It is also unwieldy, uncomfortable and heavy. Currently constructed from high-density, 20-30 layer fabrics, armoured vests also include steel or ceramic plates.
Prof Anand's team have created body-moulded armour, using smart materials technology to produce a light-weight yet super-strong material which has stopped bullets in testing. There are no ceramic or metal plates so it is lighter and more comfortable for the wearer.
And, moulded around the torso, the sides of the body are as well protected as the front and back. It is made from a new composite material developed at Bolton University. This material incorporates a fine wire mesh to resist piercing from sharp objects, such as an ice pick.
'In the US Army tests, our prototype stopped all four bullets. The bullets become lodged in the protective clothing which is very good - it also means they are not ricocheting off and potentially injuring someone else,' said Prof Anand.
With a 50-50 patent applied for Prof Anand hopes to see his design go into production soon. Eastern Michigan university project director Prof Subhash Ghosh - himself a graduate of Bolton University - visited Bolton earlier in the year to further discuss the project.
'Eastern Michigan University has designed the jacket, into which our moulded body armour will be incorporated, to make the complete garment,' said Prof Anand.
'We are very excited about this development which should have a strong potential market worldwide.'