Empty metal

Date:27 April 2012 Tags:, , ,

A group of scientists in California has created the world’s lightest metal – 100 times lighter than Styrofoam. Working under a US Defence Department programme, the researchers crafted a micro-lattice of hollow nickel tubes that is 99,9 per cent air. Unlike other ultralightweight materials, this metal has an ordered structure that provides strength. Stress tests confirmed that the material can be compressed until it is half as thick and then rebound to its original shape. The researchers (in a collaboration of the University of California at Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology) say the material could be used for battery electrodes or to absorb vibration or shock energy in microelectronics. – Alex Hutchinson

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