How good would you feel if you had a motorcycle or bicycle lock that was thoroughly uncuttable? Researchers from Durham University in England and the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany claim they’ve created the world’s first manufactured and thoroughly uncuttable material.
They’re calling it Proteus, and if uncuttability isn’t already cool enough, say that it’s also just 15 percent of the density of steel. How do you make it? You bake a mixture of powdered metal, a foaming agent, and ceramic bits in a furnace. The whole thing melts together, poofs up like bread, and the ceramic bits are distributed evenly throughout the finished metal matrix.
This clever recipe results in a material that resists cutting from angle grinders and power drills. Those ceramic bits resonate in such a way that angle grinders bounce, deflect, and are unable to cut into it. If you take a power drill to Proteus, the ceramic bits turn to powder, which then redistribute into the metal matrix and make the material even harder than it was to begin with. The only thing that could be cooler than hearing how it works is actually seeing it work, to our extremely nerdy minds.
“We developed the material for the U.K. governmental agency to increase the protection level of the national infrastructure against forcible entry,” Stefan Szyniszewski, an assistant professor of applied mechanics in Durham’s Hierarchical Materials and Structures Group, told Digital Trends.
“We were inspired by [the] abalone shell and grapefruit peel, which are biological, hierarchical structures. They are cellular structures within cellular structures with 7-12 levels of hierarchy. Human-made material reaches 4-5 levels of the hierarchy.”
Researchers also tested their material against a waterjet, and wrote the following of the results:
“The contrast between the ceramic segments and cellular material was also effective against a waterjet cutter because the convex geometry of the ceramic spheres widened the waterjet and reduced its velocity by two orders of magnitude. Shifting the design paradigm from static resistance to dynamic interactions between the material phases and the applied load could inspire novel, metamorphic materials with pre-programmed mechanisms across different length scales.”
In other words, nobody had better tell Skynet about this stuff, but some bike locks made out of it seem like a very good idea indeed. You can read the entire paper these researchers wrote in the scholarly journal Scientific Reports.