Technology Tuesday – World’s Lightest Material

Looking for a new lightweight material?  Something a bit more innovative than Styrofoam?  A collaboration of scientists from The California Institute of Technology,  the University of California, Irvine, and Hughes Research Laboratories (HRL) have created a new metallic material.  The scientists claim this material is the lightest in the world; even lighter than Styrofoam and carbon nanotubes.  The material is made of hollow nickel tubes.

The light weight material comes from an extremely low density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter.  Carbon nanotubes weigh in at a whopping 1.3 milligrams per cubic centimeter in comparison.  According to Tobias Schaedler, a scientest at HRL, “the structure of the material is made of 100-nanometer-thick hollow tubes formed in a micro-lattice process. The material is 99.99% open volume, meaning it is mostly air, and is extremely resilient to impact and shock absorbent. If you were to squash the material more than halfway it would just rebound back into its original shape.”

The technology was developed in unison with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for applications ranging from  “battery electrodes, catalyst supports, and acoustic, vibration or shock energy damping.”  As this material advances think of all the applications this material could be used in.  Lighter electronics could be in your hands some day thanks to this advancement in materials.

Check out this neat VIDEO about the material.


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