CMF armour
CMFs are a relatively new discovery, but are quickly developing a variety of usesNCSU

Researchers at North Carolina State University in the US have developed a new type of armour that not only withstands bullets, but turns them to dust upon impact. The armour in question is constructed from a substance known as composite metal foam (CMF) and opens up possibilities for new types of lightweight protection for both vehicles and personnel.

CMFs are both lighter and stronger than the plate armour typically used for body and vehicle protection and have also been proven highly effective at withstanding various types of radiation, including X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation. Most recently, researchers at NCSU have been testing CMFs for their projectile-stopping properties.

The team, led by mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Afsaneh Rabiei, constructed a composite armour made from CMFs measuring less than one inch thick and put it to the test against an armour-piercing round. The bullet being used in the video below is a 7.62 x 63 millimetre M2 projectile and was fired according to the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) standard testing procedures. Not only did the CMF armour stop the round, it completely pulverised it.

Rabiei said: "We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than eight millimetres. To put that in context, the NIJ standard allows up to 44 millimetres indentation in the back of an armour."

Beyond offering new types of ultra-lightweight body armour, CMFs are also highly effective at blocking heat, opening up potential use cases in space travel and for transporting explosives and other hazardous materials.

You can find out more about the awesome properties of CMFs in NCSU's 2015 research paper, titled Composite Structures.