Researchers say their new material won't splinter like the bumper of this Toyota (Image: wrhowell via Flickr)
Vehicles used to be predominantly made of steel, but to reduce weight and cost today’s vehicles are now built from a mixture of materials including steels, aluminum and fiber-reinforced plastics. Highly stressed load-bearing structures and crash components constructed from composites are designed to buckle on impact to help reinforce the body and protect the vehicle‘s occupants in the event of a collision. But these materials tend to chip into sharp-edged splinters on impact. Researchers have now found a way for the automotive industry to mass-produce a particularly safe class of materials that can absorb the enormous forces generated in a collision without splintering.