Aerospace giant debuts 'lightest metal ever', made up of 99.99% air

Known as microlattice, the material shares a lot of similarities with human bones, which are solid on the outside but hollow on the inside

Microlattice metal

We live in a time of many technological advancements, from the supercomputers in our pockets to the connected homes and cars but there is hardly any time to bask in the awesomeness of it all when there is already another technological advancement just around the corner.

A couple of weeks ago, Boeing released a video showing “the world’s lightest material,” a material comprised of 99.99% air.

Known as microlattice, the material shares a lot of similarities with human bones, which are solid on the outside but hollow on the inside, which makes it extremely light while still being able to withstand significant pressure.

Reasearchers at HRL Laboratories, currently owned in part by Boeing, had initially developed the material in 2011. According to one of the reports, “[the] metal-based microlattice structures are significantly less dense than the rarest aerogels and other ultralight foams, while exhibiting high strength and an unexpectedly high ability to absorb energy and recover shape after compression.”

One of the primary applications of the material will be for structural parts in aerospace engineering. By using the microlattice material, Boeing could cut down on the weights of its jets and save considerably on fuel costs.

“It’s really exciting to be able to work with things that we make that can eventually go into a real product that a lot of users can interact with,” says Sophia Yang, an HRL Laboratories research scientist.6

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