Slightly More Plausible Barriers Than Force Fields

I am contemplating writing a science fiction story involving flexible barriers that can be erected in a very short time. Force fields are pervasive in science fiction, but from what little I've read, they're not very plausible.

Is there a flexible material, or class of materials, that becomes stronger or less penetrable whenever a strong electrical current is passing through it? If so, is it conceivable that such materials could be developed in the future if they haven't been developed already? Would this be more plausible than a force field?
 

Drakkith

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Yes, I think such a material is vastly more plausible than a force field. Is there such a material now? I'm not certain. There's definitely no material that becomes much tougher than a plain old chunk of metal though. However, I think your idea would be excellent for applications where flexibility issues trump shear toughness and durability.
 

256bits

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if they haven't been developed already?
One can suspend particles such as iron in a fluid, and subject them to a magnetic field.
The solution will turn from a liquid to a sort of a solid.
Depending upon the size of the particles, one has a ferrofluid, or a magnetorheological_fluid.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetorheological_fluid
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrofluid

Also, another avenue to pursue, perhaps, is using a paramagnetic salt solution, or some other solution, for your story, whereby through ingenious engineering and physics, the solution turns more tough and rigid and acts as a force field. Maybe the ingenious engineering and physics is utilizing an ultra high current frequency of some sort. Here at least the panels can be transparent. And the frequency can be variable so that the opposition cannot break your code for the barrier and render it useless.
 

CWatters

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I can imagine a fluid or sand like material containing trillions of nanobots that link together mechanically to form a solid like structure. By selectively turning some off you could form openings or change the viscosity or create hidden dangers such a spikes or traps.
 
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You could have some version of the Macross (anime) pinpoint barrier, where there isn't actually a complete barrier in place, but a defensive system capable of intercepting every incoming projectile before it crosses a designated boundary.
 

stefan r

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The electric flyswatter. Not really "stronger" but it is a "less penetrable barrier" when electrified.
 

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