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SoCal Researchers Develop World’s Lightest Material

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IRVINE (CBS) — A team of Southern California researchers have invented a new type of metal that is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, said UC Irvine in a news release issued this week.

The material, which is made up of 99.99 percent air, acts like a solid and has a”micro-lattice cellular” architecture that allows it to retain its shape.

light metal uci SoCal Researchers Develop Worlds Lightest Material

(credit: UCI)

Researchers at UCI, Caltech and Hughes Research Labs released a photo of the small cube of metal which can be seen sitting atop a dandelion fluff, but not weighing it down.

“The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than human hair,” said Hughes Research Lab researcher Dr. Tobias Schaedler.

He is the lead author for the study, which was printed in this week’s edition of the science journal “Nature.”

Another Hughes researcher, William Carter, pointed to the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge as architectural examples of incredibly light and weight-efficient structures.

“We are revolutionizing lightweight materials by bringing this concept to the nano and micro scales,” he said.

The new material was developed under a research grant the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

It will be usable for ultra-lightweight batteries or devices that need lightweight sound, vibration or energy-absorbing uses.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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