Boffins at California's HRL Laboratories have developed what they claim is the world's lightest material, a nickel structure that is a hundred times lighter than styrofoam. World's lightest material Credit: Dan Little for HRL Laboratories World's lightest material Credit: Dan Little for HRL Laboratories Working with …
A floating Brillo pad?
Rust free too...
0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre - so not also super-strong and flexible, but it also floats
It's obviously an open-cell foam, so it would fill with water and still sink. That doesn't make it any less cool though.
The best thing about that picture is that it shows that they can make the stuff in macroscopic pieces. Carbon nanotubes are great things, but when you can only make tiny tiny ones, it's not as exciting.
"It's obviously an open-cell foam, so it would fill with water and still sink. That doesn't make it any less cool though."
Maybe, maybe not. Water has a fairly high surface tension, and this is a VERY lightweight substance with rather small openings - I suspect that without additional energy to force the water to overcome the obstacle of surface tension, there would be insufficient migration into the cells to cause the structure to sink. Of course, should the water actually penetrate into the structure the same surface tension forces will then encourage further seepage.
Of course, I'll openly admit that I'm guessing here. :)
I wonder how the properties compare to the dandelion seed head?
The Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889 and the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937...
Might be time to step out of the research bunker and look around, fellas...
You must be from the US of A
Over here we have buildings many hundreds of years old so in comparison the Eiffel Tower is a modern building..
And your example of such a modern building, visibly intricate in its architecture and so iconic it's known to pretty much everyone living, is...?
Fairly modern yes
Compared to an awful lot of structures still standing around Europe these are still relatively new. America doesn't have that much of a history compared to Europe so they think anything still standing after 50 years is old. Anything over 100 years is ancient.
lol cos the world is only 6000 years old I guess
The Sydney Opera House?
Wonder how easy it is to handle
I know, they're envisioning it to be packing material, etc. but is that after another 10 years of tinkering?
I know, they're envisioning it to be packing material
but will it taste better than the styrofoam packing peanuts?
You would think it would be insanely sharp, wouldn't you?
Nothing could taste as good as styrofoam packing peanut butter, though.
R.E. You would think it would be insanely sharp, wouldn't you?
Indeed. My concern was if the structures are so small/thin would they break up and cause asbestos like problems if inhaled?
Looks like iit might find a use as exhaust baffle
Assuming it has some sound absorption and provides thermal insulation, I can see this going into race cans.
re: I can see this going into race cans
Only if you want it to clog up with exhaust particles, I think.
I'm curious about how strong this stuff is. Would it be possible to make airplanes or rockets partially or completely out of it or some analog?
I asked the same question on another forum. On this forum, though, the question is especially pregnant, as these people built and launched a paper space plane. Perhaps, using this material, they will go to Mars?
Massive energy absorption and high elasticity... I wonder how well this would function as ballistic armour?
re: ballistic armour
I was thinking more along the lines of a cycle helmet that's slim, light and cool enough to wear while actually affording a reasonable level of protection (i.e. a lot more than the current standard "should help if you topple over at jogging speed and only hit a smooth flat surface").
So when can they make my new phone out of this stuff?
Light enough to bounce without breaking, and floats?
Sign me up now :)
Is it open cell, closed cell or can it be either just depending on how it's made? This will determine just how useful it really is. Also since nickel is a metal many people are sensitive (allergic?) to can it easily be plated?
My understanding is that it could be made of a number of different metals. The researchers just happened to have chosen nickel for this demonstration.
Somewhat more solid than a politician's election promises then?
30 St Mary Axe, known as 'The Gherkin' in London, the triangulated perimeter structure of which makes this 40-storey building sway (wind) resistant without any extra reinforcements - and which despite its overall curved shape, doesn't make extensive use of curved glass except at the cap. Small wonder an international survey of major architectural practices in 2006 rated it the "world's most admired new building".
But let's face it, space frame construction - which is what the new material's form seems to be most reminiscent of - was arrived at as early as 1900 by Alexander Graham Bell, before being thought up again by Buckminster Fuller in the 1950s... plenty of examples of that around, try Stansted Airport for a well-known example.
There's a reason it's called the Gherkin
Cos just like gherkins it's disgusting. It is truely one of the most hideous buildings I have ever seen and every time I am unfortunate enough to have to visit London I can't help but think how out of place it looks and that it ruined Londons skyline.
You've not seen the Shard yet.
$deity that thing is ugly.
I don't call it the gherkin.
I've always called it the turd. It looks more like a turd than a gherkin.
You only think that because you haven't seen the Asahi building in Tokyo! Look at this and tell me that the girkin looks more like a turd.
Eiffel it all the way down...
The Eiffel Tower is a lattice made of smaller lattices. Brilliant. But m. Eiffel gave up too soon. If the 'lattice made from smaller lattices' concept was followed through in an almost endlessly-recursive manner, then Eiffel Tower would weigh next to nothing. Obviously the recursion has to stop when the technology runs out (nanometer scale these days). Done correctly, the structural strength is retained (if not improved) while the mass tends towards zero.
The DARPA example is wonderful and fantastic, but it would be infinitely lighter if the solid tubes were made of (10:) lattice structures (GOTO 10) - all the way down.
re: lighter if the solid tubes were made of ...
A tube is by definition a /hollow/ cylinder.
C'mon, DARPA made it....
So it only exists to make killing people quicker and easier (picking the two favourites of the three: quicker, easier, cheaper)
Don't think so. This requires mass and sound absorption, this material has neither.
re: Sound proofing?
Why do you think it won't have good acoustic absorption/diffusion properties, resulting from air pumping around the very fine lattice structure?
Piezo rolls on
I wonder if a tire with a layer of this stuff interlace Piezoelectric material would be possible with this stuff.
Distribution of mechanical force through the linking around a tire.
A nice little side effect might be shock absorption as the energy interlace in the linking moves around the tire.
- Apple's spamtastic iBeacon retail alerts launch with Frisco FAIL
- Submerged Navy submarine successfully launches drone from missile tubes
- Pix Astroboffins spot HOT, YOUNG GIANT where she doesn't belong
- Cache in the Attic El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more
- Developer unleashes bowel-shaking KILLER APP for Google Glass