Metal foam is definitely more than meets the eye. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Metalfoam
A lightweight, porous metallic material could pave the way for extremely effective bulletproof armor.
Composite metal foam (CMF) is a highly porous, ultralight material consisting of a solid metal, such as aluminium, as well as a large volume percentage of gas-filled pores.
Existing applications for this material range from improving the structural integrity of buildings to the development of experimental animal prosthetics, but now researchers at North Carolina State University have found a completely new and unexpected use for it - stopping bullets.
During a recent series of experiments, the team discovered that a single 1-inch thick layer of CMF doesn't just stop an armor-piecing round - it causes the bullet to completely disintegrate on impact.
The indentation on the back of the foam, which according to the US National Institute of Justice must be less than 44mm in bulletproof body armor, was determined to be a paltry 8mm.
On top of its obvious use in bulletproof vests, the material is even capable of shielding against several types of harmful radiation and can also protect against high temperatures.
This is one type of material that we are likely to be seeing a lot more of in the near future.
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