US engineers unveil world's 'lightest material'
From the laboratories of the University of California, the material is made out of miniscule hollow metallic tubes arranged into a diagonal criss-cross pattern, leaving no wasted space and not compromising weight, while also maximizing energy absorption. All of this adds up to what the researchers call a material that is 100 times lighter than styrofoam: having a density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre.
"The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," said lead author Dr Tobias Schaedler.
This gives the material the opportunity to be implemented into many differen uses, including shock absorbers and the next-generation of batteries. What is giving the metallic micro-lattices the edge is it's consistency of 99.99% air to 0.01% solid, making this a fascinating exploration into nano material design.
"Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale," said team member Lorenzo Valdevit.
"Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material."