Sunday, November 20, 2011

Nano! Nano! Nano!

The world has been used to manufacturing stuff on a large scale. Electronics has been the exception, but now even materials manufacturing has entered the nano arena, to astounding effect. As a result, we are now able to build stuff like this:

"... researchers from UC Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology have developed the world’s lightest material – with a density... about one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam.

The researchers were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 percent air by designing the 0.01 percent solid at the nanometre, micron and millimetre scales. “The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler of HRL.

The material’s architecture allows unprecedented mechanical behaviour for a metal, including complete recovery from compression exceeding 50 percent strain and extraordinarily high energy absorption.

“Materials actually get stronger as the dimensions are reduced to the nano-scale,” explained UCI mechanical and aerospace engineer Lorenzo Valdevit, UCI’s principal investigator on the project. “Combine this with the possibility of tailoring the architecture of the micro-lattice and you have a unique cellular material.”"

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