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World's Lightest Material Unveiled

Scientists have developed the lightest solid ever created—so light that it can rest atop a dandelion without damaging it. The ultra-low density material was inspired in part by lightweight architecture such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Eiffel Tower.

With an extremely small density, the material can sit atop dandelions. Image Courtesy Dan Little, HRL Laboratories LLC.

To make the material, researchers had to create a lattice of extremely thin tubes. The material has very small density: it's 99.99% air and only 0.01% of the volume is taken up by the tiny tubes. With a thickness of 100 nanometers, the tubes are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, said lead author Tobias Schaedler in a statement.

Researchers think the material could be used for a variety of applications from battery electrodes to shock absorption. The research was commissioned by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—pioneers in the development of GPS, stealth jets and internet technology.

For more information on the amazingly lightweight material, take a look at this news release from UC Irvine.


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