MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Porous and Foamed Amorphous Metals

Alan H. Brothers and David C. Dunand


This article reviews the state of the art in the field of porous amorphous metals by describing current processing techniques, mechanical properties, and potential applications. In addition to the reduction in density, the main benefit of introducing porosity in amorphous metals is the improvement in compressive ductility and energy absorption. This ductilizing effect is explained by: (1) shear-band interruption by individual pores at low porosities and (2) stable plastic bending of thin struts at higher porosities, with cellular amorphous metals displaying compressive ductilities of up to 80%.

Alan H. Brothers is a Helmholtz Fellow in the group of John Banhart at the Hahn-Meitner Institute in Berlin. He received his BS degree in engineering and applied science from the California Institute of Technology in 2001 and his PhD degree in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University in 2006, where his thesis research in the Dunand group centered on processing, structure, and properties of amorphous metal foams. Currently, he is studying processing and structure of particle-stabilized aluminum foams.

Brothers can be reached at the Dept. of Materials Science (SF3), Hahn-Meitner-Institut Berlin, Glienicker Strasse 100, D-14109, Berlin, Germany; tel. 49-30-8062-3059 and e-mail

David C. Dunand is the James N. and Margie M. Krebs Professor of Materials Science at Northwestern University. He received a BS/MS degree in materials science from ETH Zurich in 1986, and his PhD degree from MIT in 1991. Dunand held faculty positions at MIT as an assistant professor and an associate professor before joining North-western in 1997. He has authored 150 journal articles in the areas of processing and mechanical properties of metallic alloys, composites, and foams. He was recently elected a fellow of ASM International.

Dunand can be reached at the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, Cook Hall, 2220 Campus Dr., Evanston, IL 60208, USA; tel. 847-491-5370, fax 847-491-7820, and e-mail