Scientists working at UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and Caltech have invented a material so light that it can rest on top of a dandelion without crushing the plants fuzzy little seeds.
According to researchers in the Nov. 18 issue of Science the new material is 100 times lighter than styrofoam.
Named “ultralight metallic microlattice the material consists of 99.99% air due to the “microlattice” cellular architecture.
Lead researcher Tobias Shandler of HRL says of the new materials creation:
“The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.”
According to the LA Times:
To understand the structure of the material, think of the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge — which are both light and weight efficient — but on a nano-scale.
The version shown in the picture above was constructed using 90% nickel which was the easiest material to use however researchers say it could be made out of other materials.
While it’s still unclear what type of applications the new material will have it could be used in some batter applications and acoustic dampening among other projects still to be determined.
The material is apparently so light that if you drop it from shoulder length it takes 10 seconds to fall to the ground.
Can you think of any practical day-to-day applications that the world’s lightest material could possible help with?