World’s lightest material 100 times lighter than Styrofoam developed

A team of researchers have developed the world’s lightest material, which is one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam.

A team of researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the material with a density of 0.9 mg/cc.

The new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique “micro-lattice” cellular architecture.

The researchers were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 percent air by designing the 0.01 percent solid at the nanometer, micron and millimeter scales.

“The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” Dr. Tobias Schaedler, the lead author, said.

The material’s architecture allows unprecedented mechanical behaviour for a metal, including complete recovery from compression exceeding 50 percent strain and extraordinarily high-energy absorption.

“Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale,” Lorenzo Valdevit, principal investigator on the project, said.

“Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material,” he said.

Developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the novel material could be used for battery electrodes and acoustic, vibration or shock energy absorption.

The study has been recently published in the journal Science.

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