(May 13, 2015) Researchers have demonstrated a new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water. A boat made of such lightweight composites will not sink despite damage to its structure. The new material also promises to improve automotive fuel economy because it combines light weight with heat resistance.
Although syntactic foams have been around for many years, this is the first development of a lightweight metal matrix syntactic foam. It is the work of a team of researchers from Deep Springs Technology (DST) and the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering.
Their magnesium alloy matrix composite is reinforced with silicon carbide hollow particles and has a density of only 0.92 grams per cubic centimeter compared to 1.0 g/cc of water. Not only does it have a density lower than that of water, it is strong enough to withstand the rigorous conditions faced in the marine environment.