Scientists claim to have made the world's lightest material—so light it can float on top of dandeloin fluff—and they made it out of nickel.
The metal used matters less than the structure. The material, developed by researchers at HRL Laboratories, LLC, is made out of micro-lattices that maximize strength in relation to the amount of material used. The structure is actually 99.99% air.
Nickel was used by the researchers since it was the easiest material to work with.
The claim that it is the world's lightest material has not been independently verified. The Atlantic could not find the category in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler.
The material is so light, in fact, that it is 100 times lighter than styrofoam.
"This new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique “micro-lattice” cellular architecture," said HRL Laboratories in a statement.
Possible uses for the new material are battery electrodes, catalyst supports, and acoustic, vibration or shock energy damping.
Photo credit: Photo by Dan Little © HRL Laboratories, LLC.