SinoScan UK newsletter article

Have scientists created the first 'uncuttable material'?

SinoScan UK newsletter article

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A team of scientists from England and Germany are believed to have manufactured the world’s first ‘uncuttable material’, which is capable of deflecting angle grinders and other various cutting tools.

The material, known as ‘Proteus’, is made of porous aluminium and ceramic, making it around 6 times lighter than steel and yet will withstand any grinder.

Why is it uncuttable?

As the cutting tool bites into the aluminium, it suffers extreme vibrations when it hits the ceramic spheres. This resonance causes the tool to start bouncing, thus “dulling” its cutting edge. Furthermore, as the ceramic is hit, fine dust particles fill in the matrix. The interatomic forces between the grains increase proportionately to the amount of energy applied, making the material even harder the faster the tool spins.

Dr Stefan Szyniszewski, an Assistant Professor of Applied Mechanics at Durham University, worked on creating the compound and was extremely pleased with the results.

Describing the material in simpler terms, Dr Szyniszewski said: “Essentially, cutting our material is like cutting through a jelly filled with nuggets. If you get through the jelly, you hit the nuggets, and the material will vibrate in such a way that it destroys the cutting disc or drill bit.”

Video to embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8no-4z9hbM

How is Proteus made?

Dr Szyniszewski said that the material can be easily manufactured, and it is not dissimilar to ‘baking a cake’. Metallic power is mixed with a foaming agent and then the ceramic elements, before it is placed and baked in the oven, where it forms into the new material.

What’s most exciting about Proteus is that it’s only currently a concept and the spheres can be swapped out for other materials, such as plastic or foam, and still remain strong.

How will it be used?

Proteus is expected to be used heavily within the security industry to create lightweight armour, ‘unbreakable locks’ and also security doors.

We are excited to see and follow the progress of this new compound, and how it will be adopted in different industries and for various uses.

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