SoCal Researchers Develop World’s Lightest Material

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.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.)

  • Johnny in SoCal...

    Wow… While this is AWESOME, I am curious about it’s plausable applications in real dvices is ths material STRONGER than Sterofoam?

  • john sweany

    While I understand that newscasters are not always educated ion what they report. they are quoting UC irvine officals when they say something is 1000 times lighter than something else, or 1000 times thiner than somthing else. Somthing can wieigh 1/1000 of something else or be 1/1000 as thick, or styrofoam might wiegh 1000 more than this metal. But Nothing can be 1000 times lighter, 1 time lighter is Zero, 1 time thinner is zero. There is so many statements made by news people that make no sense, I wish that news people would read what they report and if it didnt make sense make it make sense, make your writers earn there money. It makes your on air people look less credible.

    • Jordan

      An object can be 1/1000 the weight of something else, or it can weigh 1000 times less; by standard convention in English, both are equally correct. Like it or not, there is nothing wrong with the statement in the article.

      Frustration should be directed towards the English language, not the author or editors — I’ll be the first to say English doesn’t always make sense.

  • abubbleshooter

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