Researchers have developed composite metal foam (CMF) that is so tough it turns armor-piercing bullets into dust on impact. The potential for military and civil use are immense, given the fact it’s so much lighter than metal plating.
Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State, has spent years developing CMFs and investigating their unusual properties. This material has obvious implications for creating new types of body and vehicle armor — and that’s just the beginning of its potential uses, according to NC State University.
In the video above it shows a composite armor sheet made from composite metal foams. The bullet used in the video is a 7.62 x 63 millimeter M2 armor piercing projectile, and was fired according to the standard testing procedures established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
Rabiei explains in a statement:
“We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters.
“To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor.”
However, there are many other applications that would require a material to be more than just extremely light and strong. Such as, space exploration for the shipping of nuclear waste, which would require the material to be also capable of withstanding extremely high temperatures and blocking radiation.
According to NC State University, last year Rabiei proved that CMFs were very effective at shielding X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation with the support of the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. Rabiei has also published her work demonstrating that these metal foams can handle fire and heat twice as well as the plain metals they are made of.
With these CMFs becoming better understood, they may end up being used in a wide assortment of technologies that need a light and strong material.