Foam metals have been around for over a century. In their simplest form, foams are made by bubbling a gas through molten metal to form a light froth that cools into a lightweight matrix. This produces a foam that is lighter than conventional metals, but has comparable strength.A new foam metal is being developed by North Carolina State University, for use as a potential radiation shielding. The high-Z steel-steel foam is a composite made of stainless steel with small amount of tungsten. The resulting foam is less dense than stainless steel and is capable of blocking X-rays, various forms of higher and lower energy gamma rays, and neutron radiation.
"[We] are working to modify the composition of the metal foam to be even more effective than lead at blocking X-rays - and our early results are promising," says Afsaneh Rabiei of the NC State team.
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