Just two weeks ago, researchers from Durham University and Fraunhofer Institut revealed a material they are working on called Proteus. Currently a proof of concept, the new material is nearly indestructible and envisioned as a perfect material to apply to use cases like bike locks (demonstrations prove that angle grinders popular to thieves are no match) and protective gear.
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What’s perhaps most intriguing about Proteus is how it operates as an incorruptible material as well as its roots in biomimicry. The aluminum foam makeup of Proteus takes inspiration from grapefruit skin’s tough cellular structure and the crack-resistant properties of mollusk shells. As described by SciTech Daily, “Abalone sea creatures are built from tiles interlinked with a biopolymer material that make them resistant to fractures. To resist the most violent forcible entry tools, organic materials such as aragonite tiles — found in mollusk shells — were replaced in [Proteus’s] material with industrial, alumina ceramics, and an aluminum, metallic foam matrix.”
The makeup of Proteus is complicated, but is essentially an aluminum structure embedded with ceramic spheres. When an angle grinder or drill bit attempts impact, the vibratory affect of the internal ceramic spheres severely dull the tool’s blade.
The ceramic material also works to reinforce damages to Proteus’s surface. When the internal spheres are damaged, the ceramic dust that collects fills the cellular structure of the material, only causing the material to get harder the more that an impact is attempted.
As mentioned earlier, Proteus is still in a testing phase but has great potential when it comes to different applications.
What other instances do you think Proteus would be a good material fit? Sound off in the comments below.