Team Creates Lightest Material on the Planet

'Ultralight metallic microlattice' 100 times lighter than Styrofoam
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2011 3:38 AM CST
Updated Nov 18, 2011 5:10 AM CST
The material is lighter than the lightest aerogels, the team says.   (Dan Little, HRL Laboratories)

(Newser) – A University of California team says it has created a material lighter than any other on Earth. The team's "ultralight metallic microlattice" is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, and can sit atop a fluffy dandelion without crushing its seeds, the Los Angeles Times reports. The material is 99.99% air, with the rest consisting of a nickel-phosphorus alloy formed into a network of tiny hollow tubes.

"The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," the lead researcher explains. When dropped from shoulder height, the material takes more than 10 seconds to fall to the ground. The team says the material can be used in the aerospace industry, in batteries, and for acoustic dampening.

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