Feeds

DARPA boffins develop unfeasibly light metal fluff-structure

Nano-nickel wonder stuff bar can rest atop a dandelion

Remote control for virtualized 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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
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.