Ultra-High Strength, Energy-Absorbing Metal-Ceramic Composites

Tech ID: 23591 / UC Case 2011-276-0


Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and collaborators have developed a series of tri-modal composites composed of both metal and ceramic materials with ultra-high strength and unexpected ductility. This novel material will out-perform current structural materials, such as aluminum and steel in applications such as structures, structural armor, bumper guards and other energy-absorbing applications. The incorporation of nanocrystalline phases and multiple length scales results in improved material properties in this multiple-grain-sized composite, compared to their solely microcrystalline or nanocrystalline counterparts.

Full Description

Three constituents were incorporated to make the tri-modal composites. The microstructure of the bulk tri-modal composites can be controlled through processing. Cryomilling and consolidation methods were used to combine ceramic and metallic powders and to fabricate the bulk tri-modal composites. The milled composite powders were consolidated via hot/cold isostatic pressing (HIPing/CIPing), followed by extrusion. Cryomilling of the composite produced a good interface between the reinforcement and the nanocrystalline matrix, and a uniform distribution of the reinforcement in the metal matrix, both of which benefit the mechanical behavior of the composite.


There are multiple potential applications, with perhaps the most stunning benefit being realized in lightweight armor for military or other applications, due to the remarkable performance under high strain rate testing.

  • Aerospace
  • Armor
  • Automotive
  • Marine
  • Military



  • Weighs one third of the weight of steel;
  • Has ultra-high strength: 1000 MPa;
  • Is ductile: 50% at a strain rate of 100/s;
  • Resists corrosion;
  • Absorbs neutron radiation;
  • Resists wear;
  • Is weldable.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 9,211,586 12/15/2015 2011-276

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Other Information


Tri-modal composites, Ceramic, Ductility, Structural armor, Structural applications, Energy-absorbing applications, Composite, Aerospace, Automotive, Marine, Military, Medical, Body-part replacement

Categorized As

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  • Institute for Innovation Logo

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