While Kevlar is often used to protect law enforcement and soldiers from projectiles, it struggles to stop armor-piercing bullets. But now a type of composite metal foam (CMF) has been developed that can annihilate this type of ammunition on impact.
Created by Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at North Carolina State University, the inch-thick foam is able to absorb so much of a 7.62 x 63mm M2 armor-piercing bullet’s impact, it leaves an indentation on the back measuring less than 8 millimeters. For context, the National Institute of Justice standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of a piece of armor.
As you can see in the video, the bullet shatters when it hits the foam. Rabiei also tested it against the standard NATO 7.62 × 51mm rounds. The material could be used in future versions of body armor, providing lighter and safer protection for armed forces personnel and police. It could even be applied to vehicles.
CMF is created by incorporating hollow beads of one metal into a substrate cast from another. In addition to stopping armor-piercing bullets, it resists heat and fire much better than the metals it’s made of. It’s also shown to be remarkably effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays, and neutron radiation. These properties mean it could have applications for nuclear material transportation/storage and space travel.
While CMFs have been around for decades, the true potential of the material is only now being fully realized.