12/04/2016 2:07 AM AEST | Updated 13/04/2016 12:43 AM AEST

This Lightweight Metal Foam May Be The Future Of Bulletproof Armor

Watch an armor-piercing bullet be obliterated on impact by the material.

A composite metal foam that stops armor-piercing bullets in their tracks could be the future of bulletproof body and vehicle armor, scientists say.

Afsaneh Rabiei, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at N.C. State University, has developed the lightweight material over a number of years.

Rabiei's team filmed footage that shows a 7.62 mm x 63 mm M2 projectile being fired at the foam. The bullet is completely obliterated on impact, and turns to dust.

According to a statement, the "lighter than metal plating" material has "obvious implications for creating new types of body and vehicle armor." It is also incredibly effective.

"We could stop the bullet at a total thickness of less than an inch, while the indentation on the back was less than 8 millimeters," Rabiei said via the press release. "To put that in context, the NIJ (National Institute of Justice) standard allows up to 44 millimeters indentation in the back of an armor."

The foam could have a multitude of other applications, with its heat- and radiation-blocking properties lending it to the space exploration and nuclear waste shipping industries.

Afsaneh Rabiei
Afsaneh Rabiei has spent years developing the composite metal foam, which may be the future of bulletproof armor.

Last year, Rabiei demonstrated how composite metal foams could shield neutron radiation and X-rays.

And in March, she proved how they were "significantly more effective at insulating against high heat" than the metal and alloys they’re made of, including steel.