Scientists have developed a new technology for the production of ultra-light metal foams that can protect a car in a collision, absorb shock waves from an explosion, or lighten load-bearing structures. Foam characteristics can be customized according to requirements and used as a basis polymer materials.
Materials scientists from the University of Saar were inspired by one of the most unique natural materials – bone, which has high strength, withstands heavy loads, but is incredibly light. Although existing foamed metals also have a small mass, they are not elastic, have a weak structure, and the process of their production is very complicated and expensive..
Researchers have been able to solve most of these problems by developing an effective technology for applying a special nanocrystalline coating on the inner surface of a lattice structure with open pores. After such processing, the material becomes stronger and harder, thanks to which it is able to withstand even extreme loads..
The coating is applied in an electroplating bath. In order to achieve uniform distribution over the entire inner surface and overcome the effect of the Faraday cage, the researchers used a special anode cage.
The metal foams produced in this way have a low density, a large surface area and a small volume. This allows them to be used as mobile barriers to protect against shock waves, explosions, heat-shielding or sound-absorbing screens, as well as to lighten load-bearing structures in cars, airplanes..
At first, scientists used aluminum as a base, but then began experimenting with other metals and polyurethane. The technology is versatile, allowing the processing of various types of foam materials and adjust coating thickness, optimizing performance.
Recall that recently researchers have developed a way to permanently weld glass to metal.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Oliver Dietze / Saarland University
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