Scientists from NC State University have created a new type of armor that could replace the rolled steel sort of military applications. The team created the new armor using a composite metal foam (CMF) that is less than half the weight of normal armor but can stop .50 cal ball and armor piercing ammo.
The armor is created using a foam made with hollow, metallic spheres made of materials like stainless steel or titanium embedded in a matrix made of steel, titanium, or other metallic alloys. In their testing, the armor absorbed 72-75% of the kinetic energy of .50 cal ball rounds and 68 to 78% of the energy from armor-piercing rounds.
The researchers think that the armor could allow military vehicles to be made safer with more armor without a weight penalty, or could allow the same level of protection as conventional armor, with better fuel economy and performance.