World’s lightest material created by scientists

Monday, November 21st, 2011 1:53:57 by

World’s lightest material created by scientists

A team of scientists at the UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have successfully developed world’s lightest material. According to calculations, this material has a density of just 0.9 mg/cc which is almost 100 times lighter
than Styrofoam which was earlier the lightest material in the world.

Those findings appeared in November 18th edition of Science.

The limits of lightweight materials have been redefined because of this new material. The unique ‘micro-lattice’ architecture of the material is considered the reason behind the material’s density.

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.

Lead scientist at HRL, Dr Tobias Schaedler says, "The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair."

For a metal, this material has an unprecedented mechanical behaviour which is because of it’s architecture. A 50 % strain of any kind of compression is does not affect this material which has an extraordinarily high energy absorption rate.

"Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale," explained UCI mechanical and aerospace engineer Lorenzo Valdevit, UCI’s principal investigator on the project. "Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture
of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material."

William Carter, manager of the architected materials group at HRL, compared the new material to larger, more familiar edifices: "Modern buildings, exemplified by the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, are incredibly light and weight-efficient by virtue
of their architecture. We are revolutionizing lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the nano and micro scales."

This is indeed a great find made by scientists which will in future turn out to be more cost effective than Styrofoam.


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