Lightest Material Ever Created

Everyday, experiments are being done, technology is being challenged and as a result new revolutionary concepts and ideas are coming up at an unimaginable speed. Bright human minds have been relentlessly trying to stretch the boundaries of nature and science while staring defiantly at ‘impossible’. An example of this is a new video that has surfaced on internet. HRL Laboratories in collaboration with Boeing have come up with the structure for what they claim to be the Lightest material on the planet, Microlattice.

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Microlattice was first revealed in 2011 but it is now that someone has come up with a structure that uses it. This material is a 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and yet strong. HRL Laboratories have come up with the structure made of  a lattice of interconnected metallic hollow tubes having a criss-cross diagonal pattern. The outer surface is not plane solid as there are openings all over the form.

       

The structure is a 3D open-cellular polymer in which 99.9% of the volume is occupied by air and yet it doesn’t lose its property of bending and twisting. It is not dense at all and has a great center of mass as it can rest atop a dandelion. Even more exciting is the fact that it has properties like heat transfer as well as shock absorption.

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

According to a press release by HRL Laboratories “In addition to its ultra-low density, the material’s cellular architecture gives rise to unprecedented mechanical behavior for a metal, including complete recovery from compression exceeding 50% strain and extraordinarily high energy absorption………………. We are revolutionizing lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the materials level and designing their architectures at the nano and micro scales”

According to Sophia Yang, a Research scientist at HRL laboratories explains that this structure is quite similar to that of a bone. On the outside is rigid whereas on the inside, there is an open-cellular structure that provides strength while keeping the material light. Same concept has been used to develop Microlattice structure.

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Courtesy of HRL Laboratories

Boeing is excited about the applications it could have in the automobile as well as aerospace sector. This material substntially decrease the weight of aircrafts as well as automobiles thus increasing the fuel efficiency. Although it is not supposed to take place of aluminium and steel in the structural aspect of carriers, it could still be used in the internal components.

The above mentioned applications are just the crust of the potential of this substance and one can be very sure with the way science and technology has been exponentially pushing the envelope, that day is in near future when Microlattice will come out of research labs and be a part of our daily life.

By: Vaibhav Sharma

Leave a Reply