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Scientists Unveil "World's Lightest Material"

| 18 Nov 2011 20:19
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Finally, a metal you can stack on top of a dandelion puff.

Researchers working at UC Irvine have developed a new, as-yet-unnamed material that they claim is both incredibly light and incredibly strong.

From the official press release:

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," said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler of HRL.

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

Did it just get too sciencey in here? Project engineer Lorenzo Valdevit puts it in more simple, utilitarian terms.

"Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale," Valdevit says. "Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material."

Unsurprisingly, the US military is interested in this new material's potential uses in shock absorption and the production of next-generation batteries.

Most impressively however, is that image above. That would be the new material sitting atop the hyper-fragile reproductive system of a dandelion puff. If you've ever been a child you'll know how little it takes to dislodge those puff poofs into a cloud of float-poof.

Additionally, poof poofity poof poof.

Source: UC Irvine

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