Harnessing the destructive potential of force and rotation, cutting tools like saws, drills, and angle grinders can obliterate the superlative properties that materials work so hard to perfect. And even when materials are designed to work against the power of these tools, the materials still often fail.
So what if instead we designed materials to work with the power of cutting tools rather than against them? While that may sound counterintuitive, it is just what an international group of researchers has done—and their preliminary tests show the ceramic–metal composite material they designed resists damage beyond shallow surface cuts.
The researchers, from Durham University, University of Surrey, and University of Stirling in the U.K. and Fraunhofer Institute and Leibniz University Hannover in Germany, developed a ceramic–metal composite that, despite being just 15% as dense as steel, is nearly uncuttable. By harnessing the power of vibration, the material directs tools’ destructive energy back upon themselves, wearing the tools down before they can inflict serious damage on the material.