March 4, 2018

Ultralight metallic cellular material

Inspired by the lattice structures of ambitious works of engineering, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, researchers at HRL Laboratories have developed one of the world’s lightest materials. The new nickel-phosphorous substance consists of a cellular structure that resembles a multilayered space frame at microscale. Its incredibly low density—0.9 mg/cc—makes it lighter than air and about one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam. It has an open volume of 99.99 percent, with 0.01 percent solid material deposited in the form of hollow tubes with a 100-nm wall thickness—or one thousand times thinner than a human hair.

Despite the material’s low density, it exhibits high strength and elasticity, and can receive 50 percent strain without permanent deformation. According to the researchers, the microlattice architecture can be designed to be stiffer and stronger than foams and aerogels of the same density. It also has significant energy-absorption properties, making it suitable for vibration, acoustic, or shock energy–based damping.

Contact: HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, CA, USA.

For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future

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