2009: The Year in Innovation

modumetal, metal, bullet-proof
Photo by Jamie Chung
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A New Metal Stronger Than Steel

Imagine a metal that’s stronger, lighter, and more energy absorbent than steel -- yet is cheaper to make. Seattle-based company Modumetal grows its product (of the same name) in a tank full of acid -- scraps of nickel, iron, and other metals are dissolved and then reborn, with a series of electric charges that alter the metals’ atomic structure. The company wants to use the metal to create lightweight bulletproof vests, heat-resistant aircraft turbines, and vehicle suspension systems that can absorb some of the energy from a bomb blast.