A team of US researchers working on behalf of the US Department of Defence DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) announced on Thursday they have developed the world’s lightest material so light it can be placed atop a mature dandelion fluff without damaging it.
The new material is 99.99% open volume while the 0.01% of the actual material is a micro-lattice of interconnected nickel-phosphorus hollow tubes. The tubes’ wall thickness is just 100 nanometers, or about 1,000 times thinner than a typical human hair.
The material is arranged similar to the way the Eiffel Tower is constructed, using an open hierarchal lattice design that has been proven to be both light and strong and contributes to the material’s ultra-low density of just 0.9mg per cubic centimetre.
The material is able to completely recover more than 50% strain. As a result, researchers say the material could be used in applications that include shock energy, acoustic, and vibration energy damping, battery electrodes, and other specialized applications requiring a light-weight yet durable material.
The team that developed the material include researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the California Institute of Technology, and HLR Laboratories of California.