World’s lightest material: Metallic microlattice

Metallic microlattice is a metal developed by a team of researchers from University of California at Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology. As shown in the picture, the Metallic microlattice is resting on a dandelion fluff without damaging it.

  • With a density of 0.9 mg/cc, the metal, this Metallic microlattice is the world’s lightest material. The scientists were able to make a material that consists of 99.99% air by designing the 0.01% solid at the nanometre, micron and millimetre scales.

How it was made?

  • The research team first made a polymer microlattice template by exploiting an optical trick for growing polymer fibers using light. The process passes ultraviolet (UV) light through a perforated mask into a reservoir of resin that gets cured when it’s exposed to UV. The resin traps light as it cures under each hole in the mask and forms a polymer fiber along the path of the light. Playing multiple light beams over the mask makes the fibers interconnect to form a lattice. The remaining uncured resin is washed out, the polymer template is coated in a thin layer of nickel, and the polymer is dissolved with lye, also known as sodium hydroxide. This leaves a “very thin” hollow lattice surrounding the original template.

What are its uses?

  • Uses for ultra light cellular materials include thermal insulation, battery electrodes and damping for acoustic, vibration and shock energy.

Tags: ,