It might look like grey Swiss cheese, but this is in fact the first ever example of a new kind of material, which sandwiches a metal foam between two layers of carbon.
The material, created by researchers from the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, is created in stages. First, the foam is made not by injecting gas bubbles but by encapsulating hollow alumina particles within aluminium alloy. Then, sheets of carbon fabric face-sheets are applied. The result is light, stiff and able to absorb incredible amounts of energy. Its creators reckon it will be used in automobiles, trains and ships. [Materials Science and Engineering]