A team of US engineers have create the world’s ‘lightest material’. The material, which is made out of tiny hollow metallic tubes arranged into a micro-lattice, is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and it’s strong for its size.
Practical uses of the material include next-generation batteries, thermal insulation, and products that need to dampen sound, vibration and shock energy.
By comparison the density of silica aerogels – the world’s lightest solid materials – is only as low as 1.0mg per cubic cm.
The metallic micro-lattices have the edge because they consist of 99.99% air and of 0.01% solids.
The engineers say the material’s strength derives from the ordered nature of its lattice design.
By contrast, other ultralight substances, including aerogels and metallic foams, have random cellular structures. This means they are less stiff, strong, energy absorptive or conductive than the bulk of the raw materials that they are made out of.