The first non-cuttable material in the world – Proteus

(Szyniszewski et. al., Nature, 2020)

A manufactured material named, ‘Proteus’ has become the world’s first non-cuttable material according to a study published in the Nature journal today. The research was a joint effort by scientists from Durham University UK and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.

Proteus is only 15% in density than steel which would make a fine protection in safety industry making stronger lightweight armours or non-cuttable locks. The durable, fracture-proof aragonite Mollusc shell and the round strong Grapefruit skin are some of the inspirations behind this new product. A grapefruit pulp is protected from a free-fall of even 10 meters high because of its vascular and open-pored cellular structure.

The material is made with Ceramic spheres embedded in a cellular Aluminium matrix. These ceramic spheres are built with very fine particles to disrupt a cutting process similar to a sandbag stopping a bullet! When a Power drill, Angle grinder or even a Water jet cutter tries to cut through, they can only cut the flexible cellular aluminium structure. Once the disk or drill hit the embedded ceramic spheres, the material vibrates in such a way that it blunts or destroys the tool’s sharp edge. The resulting Ceramic grains will further interrupt the cutting. The more it tries to cut through the more damage it does to the drill! The dents on the picture displays such an attempt!

The researchers plan to merge their unique ‘metallic-ceramic hierarchical’ material with the current market demand for such products once they obtain the patent. A much-needed material of protection indeed!