Plasticity and damage in aluminum syntactic foams deformed under dynamic and quasi-static conditions

Dorian K. Balch, John G. O'Dwyer, Graham R. Davis, Carl M. Cady, George T. Gray, David C. Dunand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Syntactic foams were fabricated by liquid metal infiltration of commercially pure and 7075 aluminum into preforms of hollow ceramic microspheres. The foams exhibited peak strengths during quasi-static compression ranging from -100 to -230 MPa, while dynamic compression loading showed a 10-30% increase in peak strength magnitude, with strain rate sensitivities similar to those of aluminum-matrix composite materials. X-ray tomographic investigation of the post-compression loaded foam microstructures revealed sharp differences in deformation modes, with the unalloyed-Al foam failing initially by matrix deformation, while the alloy-matrix foams failed more abruptly through the formation of sharp crush bands oriented at about 45° to the compression axis. These foams displayed pronounced energy-absorbing capabilities, suggesting their potential use in packaging applications or for impact protection; proper tailoring of matrix and microsphere strengths would result in optimized syntactic foam properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)408-417
Number of pages10
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering A
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 25 2005


  • Aluminum alloys
  • Dynamic compression
  • Energy absorption
  • Strain rate sensitivity
  • Syntactic foam
  • X-ray tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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