Feeds

DARPA boffins develop unfeasibly light metal fluff-structure

Nano-nickel wonder stuff bar can rest atop a dandelion

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Boffins at California's HRL Laboratories have developed what they claim is the world's lightest material, a nickel structure that is a hundred times lighter than styrofoam.

World's lightest material Credit: Dan Little for HRL Laboratories

World's lightest material Credit: Dan Little for HRL Laboratories

Working with colleagues from the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, the researchers produced the substance using a fabrication process developed by HRL senior scientist Dr Alan Jacobsen.

The team was able to make a material that was 99.99 per cent open volume by designing the 0.01 per cent solid at the nanometre, micron and millimetre level, the Lab said in a statement on the project.

“The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometres, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler.

The resulting nickel matter has a density of just 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre.

Dr Bill Carter, manager of the Architected Materials Group at HRL, said the scientists took ideas from the ways large structures are made.

"Modern buildings, exemplified by the Eiffel Tower or the Golden Gate Bridge, are incredibly light and weight-efficient by virtue of their architectures. We are revolutionising lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the materials level and designing their architectures at the nano and micro scales," he said.

Manipulating the material's cellular architecture also makes the material behave very differently from ordinary metals. Even if the stuff is squished down to half its height, it bounces back into shape and it also has "extraordinarily high" energy absorption.

The boffins, who developed the material for DARPA, envision it being used for a variety of purposes, including thermal insulation, battery electrodes and sound-proofing.

The full results of their research are behind a paywall on Science here. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.