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Engineers Create World's Lightest Material

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the less-filling-tastes-great dept.

Science 177

ackthpt writes "A team of engineers claims to have created the world's lightest material. Made from a lattice of hollow metallic tubes, the material is less dense than aerogels and metallic foams, yet retains strength due to the small size of the lattice structure (abstract). The material's density is 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. Among other things, it's potentially useful for insulation, battery electrodes, and sound dampening."

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So... (5, Funny)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099586)

A Series of Tubes, eh?

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

ChromaticDragon (1034458) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099596)

As light and vapid as a first post...

Unlikely (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099608)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

Re:Unlikely (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099640)

The AC beat me to it. I was going to post that this stuff should float in a normal Earth atmosphere. If true, this would be an amazing breakthrough, but my skeptic's glasses are on right now.

Re:Unlikely (5, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099708)

Some Aerogels can already float in air, but most of those are incredibly fragile.

Re:Unlikely (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099724)

Got a link? The lightest materials I can find are about 50% more dense than air. I am really curious about stuff like this, so wold like to read more...

Re:Unlikely (5, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099806)

I normally don't link videos, but in this case it makes sense.

I think this is what he is talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoCAxS4vqwQ [youtube.com]

Re:Unlikely (4, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099824)

The trick is to purge the CO2 with helium or hydrogen after you've finished the supercritical drying.

Re:Unlikely (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099918)

The lightest Aerogel when evacuated has a density of ~1mg/cm^3

It is porous, and when air is allowed into its structure to goes up to 1.9mg/cm^3.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerogel

It doesn't have the strength to resist 1 atmosphere of pressure when sealed. But helium can be used to equalize the pressure and the material will float in air.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoCAxS4vqwQ

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100670)

You know what else floats when you fill it with helium?

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100778)

Soooooo......

They will float when filled with heli?

I ve a couple of those incredible solids right there....

Re:Unlikely (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100796)

The AC beat me to it. I was going to post that this stuff should float in a normal Earth atmosphere. If true, this would be an amazing breakthrough, but my skeptic's glasses are on right now.

Well, no: the material itself if still made of metal, and the metal has a density greater than atmosphere, and the atmosphere pervades through it (it's an open cell lattice). In order for it to float in air, you would need to enclose it (i.e., put a skin around it) and remove the air from the interior volume. The material needs to displace the air. The same could be said for boats: they float on water only when the hull has the water removed. Once the water gets inside the hull, you face the fact that the boat is made of metal and will sink [youtube.com] . The buoyancy in air or water is based on displacing the fluid by something of lesser density. For a floating boat, replacing water with air. For a chunk of this foam, replacing air with helium, vacuum, etc.

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099658)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

Duh. They make it on the ceiling!

Re:Unlikely (5, Insightful)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099674)

You're obviously going to have tared the measuring against air. Making it .9mg above the weight of the air. But, if there is no air, it would weight .9.

Re:Unlikely (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099714)

If that is the case, then aerogel wins
aerogel is 1.9mg/cm^3 in a normal atmosphere, only 0.7mg above the weight of the air.

Can someone settle the discrepency beside speculating like we are?

Re:Unlikely (5, Informative)

Zerth (26112) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099782)

Re:Unlikely (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099812)

Thanks. I am now more confused as aerogel is lighter than than sans air. But I appreciate the link.

Re:Unlikely (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099900)

So if you make a ball of that material, put a thin air-tight hull on the outside (doesn't have to be very strong because it is supported by the material) and evacuate it, would you then get a vacuum balloon? Or would the material not stand the pressure (or stand it, but get compressed so much that the density goes above air density anyway)?

Re:Unlikely (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100698)

No, you wouldn't get a vacuum balloon. Not one that works. The material would instantly collapse. It's not strong enough to resist the atmosphere, by a wide margin.

Re:Unlikely (2)

IronOxen (2502562) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099866)

If it is lighter than air per cm^3 then make it in a vacuum and lets build a flying saucer

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100448)

If the air is not trapped in the material and not counted against its weight, then obviously it shouldn't be counted against its volume either. Otherwise I can easily make a balloon which is "less dense" than this material by weighing only the hull and dividing by the volume of the enclosed air. I

Re:Unlikely (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099720)

It's 99.99% open volume. Sounds feasible to me.

Re:Unlikely (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099810)

That would mean it's 99.99% filled with air, no? Which means it's .9 + .99*weightOfAir...

Re:Unlikely (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100564)

So they aren't measuring the volume properly. They are measuring the bounding box, and not doing an Archimedes-style immerse-it-in-a-fluid-and-measure-the-displacement volume measurement. If they did that, I'm sure the density would be the same as the metal from which it is made.

But if you're going to cheat, and measure the volume of the envelope, then I'm sure I've got a lighter than air tent. And what about all those air supported sports domes? Zepplins and hot air balloons? Been there. Done that.

Re:Unlikely (2)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099744)

the tubes are filled with air, so you must take into account the weight of the air. total should be close to 2.1kg/m.
the material isn't really this light in itself. It's like making a 1m box with paper and claiming it weights ten g/m.

Re:Unlikely (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099772)

Well, when it's in the atmosphere it's filled with air.

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099830)

Cue the comments from people who do not understand the difference between weight and mass.

Re:Unlikely (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099892)

At least you were smart enough to stay AC. Weight and mass are irrelevant to this conversation. Thanks for playing though.

Re:Unlikely (2)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099890)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

It was pointed out that the value 0.9 for density does not include the air. This makes sense because then we would need to know the exact composition of the air used so we could get an accurate measurement of the material. All that said, however, "lighter than air" has no relevance with respect to density.

Heck... (3, Interesting)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099948)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

The freaking Universe has a density of 9.9x10^-27 kg/m^3

Make of that what you will!

Re:Heck... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100286)

The universe is floating in our atmosphere!

Re:Unlikely (1)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100068)

0.9mg/cm^3

mg/cm^3 are the dumbest units, why not g/m^3?

Re:Unlikely (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100648)

Uh ... highly conveniently, they are the same number, friend. 0.9 mg/cm^3 = 0.9 g/m^3.

Re:Unlikely (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100666)

Oops, meant to say that 0.8 mg/cm^3 is 0.9 kg/m^3. Oh hell. It's still the same number when you choose the right units :-)

Re:Unlikely (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100682)

0.8, 0.9, who's counting. More caffeine. Must hit the right keys.

Re:Unlikely (4, Interesting)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100192)

This is just my guess, but that is probably its density in a vacuum. When exposed to atmosphere, air goes through the cavities, filling then up, thus increasing its density. Something like calculating the density of a sponge in an underwater environment. My 2 cents.

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100226)

Math fail.

1 mg/cm^3 is 1000 g/m^3

Re:Unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100458)

Math fail.

1 mg/cm^3 is 1000 g/m^3

and 1000g = 1kg

meaning .9mg/cm^3 = .9kg/m^3

Did I just get trolled, or did you really call "math fail" on somebody and not even understand what kilo- means?

Floating furniture? (2, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100384)

Here's a repost of my post I submitted yesterday (don't know why they rejected it, probably thought I was too hair brained).

Anyway, here are some applications for a lighter than air substance!

wisebabo writes
"Wow, so here's something that beats even aerogel (which I understand is 99.9% empty space; this new material made from metal, is 99.99% empty space!)!

Anyway, in typical slashdot.fashion, knowing nothing about its mechanical properties (other than the article says it could be a good insulator or sound absorber) not to mention knowing nothing about how it is made or what it costs, let me propose two applications:

1) take a large slab and wrap it in an airtight non-gas permeable membrane. Pump out the air. Voila! You now have a lighter than air structure that doesn't use expensive helium or flammable hydrogen. Let the new age of dirigibles (and floating in mid-air furniture) begin!

2) Find a way to make this from its raw materials in a vacuum and in zero-g (hopefully it won't require a large amount of super-critical fluids like liquid CO2 that aerogels do). Launch a not-too-heavy manufacturing plant into LEO and make a (VERY) big cube or sphere of this stuff. Voila! Just like aerogels, you'll have a material that'll be perfect for capturing or at least slowing down all the hypervelocity space junk just like the "Stardust" and "Genesis" probes did. This'll be perfect for getting all the tiny particles and "flakes" that are too small to chase down, zap with a laser or perhaps even track via telescope or radar. Because it's very light, it'll be economical to launch something very big. (Best to attach an ion engine or some low thrust, high efficiency engine to change/maintain orbit).

2b) Oh well, as long as we're dreaming; if you can make this in space, it'd be perfect for making heat shields that weigh almost nothing (and are very very compact to launch because you're just launching the raw materials right?). Could be useful for any probe that's heading to any planet with an atmosphere or reentry to earth. Good for BIG solar shields (a la the movie "Sunshine") also.

2c) Okay, last one, I promise. If it deforms in a predictable manner, how about using it as an "airbag" replacement? After the (huge) heat shield has done it's work, the space probe could be cushioned upon impact with something stronger than an airbag without being prohibitively heavy. (Won't have to use that crazy "sky crane" like they're going to try with the MSL).

Anyway, here's to totally uninformed speculation!"

Re:Floating furniture? (1, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100720)

Re (1): it won't work. The material would instantly collapse from the atmospheric pressure.

Re:Unlikely (4, Insightful)

ukemike (956477) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100598)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

Yes, and if you wrapped an impermeable skin around it and evacuated the air using the lattice material as a support for the skin then it probably would float (assuming that the skin didn't tip the balance of the stuff into being too dense and assuming the material was strong enough to resist collapse from the atmospheric pressure). BUT it is a lattice material and the spaces in between the hollow metallic tubes are typically, brace yourself... full of air! So on it's own it does not float.

It's amazing to me that the parent got modded insightful. Sure he can google the density of air, but clearly he couldn't reason his way out of a paper bag.

Re:Unlikely (2, Interesting)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100726)

It could be a weight vs mass issue. Even though they're using grams, they may be making it laymen and treating it like a weight.

So it has a "weight" of 0.9kg/m^3 when including buoyancy from our atmosphere.

When most people put something on a scale and sees 1KG, they don't think.. "ooops, forgot to compensate for the volume of air it displaces"

But you do bring up a good point that I would love to have answered.

Re:Unlikely (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100780)

I forgot to add that it may be permeable, allowing air to entire its structure, so even if it was weighed in a vacuum as below that of air, it may gain mass when subjected to an atmosphere, but the mass of the atmosphere would mostly cancel out leaving about the same weight.. all depending on its structure.

Re:Unlikely (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100846)

I have ADD.. sorry..

Another thing I thought of.

If one to place a decently large volume this stuff in a vacuum, foil wrap it and expose it to atmosphere, would it float? If it truly has a density less than our atmosphere, then enough volume to compensate for the extra mass of the seal over the surface would allow it to float.

Re:Unlikely (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100774)

Aerogels are alerady known to be lighter than air, they couldn't break the record being heavier.

That density is estimated for the material on vaccum.

Re:Unlikely (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100812)

0.9mg/cm^3 is 0.9kg/m^3, i.e. lighter than air (1.2kg/m^3). I call shenanigans.

A lattice of metal bars can be "lighter than water" and still not float, because of water intrusion into the spaces.

If this material's structure is fine enough to prevent, or slow, air infiltration into the spaces, it could indeed float in air. If it can't, it could still be evacuated in a vacuum chamber and then wrapped in a balloon skin.

Party balloons that float for years... probably a bit expensive for that application.

AMERICAN Engineers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099678)

I know that if this was a chinese discovery, slashdot would have tripped over itself to make that distinction....

they'll surely cover the story when the chinese steal the idea, produce it for 1/10th the cost (no R&D costs to recoup afterall) and put some more americans out of work.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099746)

The US is a cheap imitation of European civilisation without all the R&D costs to recoup. (amirite? Europeans mod up and Americans mod down, because moderation is a way of showing whether you agree.)

I don't see why China can't follow the example.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100160)

The USA was founded before, and had a large hand in the industrialization of the world, and has furthermore had a large hand in the development of the technology we all use on a daily basis.

your point is invalid.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100174)

Cheap? We're paying for it in Baptists. Please take them back.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100130)

And this is exactly why we need SOPA. Innovation like this would not be possible anymore if we let rogue foreigners pirate our IP. Please help reelect such fine representatives such as the bill's introducer Lamar Smith (R) and true patriot co-sponsors such as Bob Goodlatte (R), Dennis R. Ross (R), Elton Gallegy (R), Marsha Blackburn (R), Mary Bono Mack (R), Steve Chabot (R), Timothy Griffin (R), Lee Terry (R), Mark Amodei (R), John Carter (R), Peter King (R), Thomas Marino (R), Alan Nunnelee (R), Steve Scalise (R). Bring back home the $135 billion bring stolen from this country by pirates and counterfeiters.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100318)

If its sponsored by republitards you know its fucked up.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100450)

All of these heinous copyright bills have either been introduced or heavily co-sponsored by republicans. The DMCA, for example, was introduced by Republican Howard Coble and 6 of the 9 co-sponsors being republicans, too. The notion that only the Democrats are the lackeys of the copyright lobby just doesn't match reality. Both sides are equally to blame since both overwhelmingly support this shit.

Re:AMERICAN Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100704)

Protect American innovation and free spirit. Defeat this piece of shit bill.

Hello, Computer... (4, Funny)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099690)

Well, I guess Scotty and the rest of the crew finally got here. Watch the sky for Klingon warbirds and flying whales!

Re:Hello, Computer... (4, Insightful)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100026)

Um, Scotty gave us transparent aluminium, i.e. the thinnest transparent material. Not the lightest material. Light and thin aren't the same thing yet, at least not before a few coordinate system transformations.

Re:Hello, Computer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100182)

There be trolls here!

This is getting ridiculous... (4, Funny)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099702)

...and slightly convenient, too.

Week before it was the blackest material ever.
Last week it was the slipperiest.
This week it's the lightest.

What's on for next week? Heaviest? Densest? Whitest? Most beige?

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (5, Funny)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099818)

sleepiest, dopiest, bashfulest

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099840)

We've already found the densest thing in the universe. A slashdot thread argument between unity100 and roman_mir about the role of government in the market.

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099912)

I'm hoping for softest.

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099970)

The most resistant to vibrations.

The most able to transfer thermal energy.

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100140)

thermal superconductor would be quite nice...

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099972)

"Least controversial" would be a fun twist. It'd only remain in that state for as long as the information was kept private. The moment that it leaks to the Internet, it loses its state of least controversial.

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100018)

"What's on for next week? Heaviest? Densest? Whitest?"

You're predicting an article about Fat Bastard?

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100036)

All of which would be interesting. Some of us like science and engineering.

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100290)

What's on for next week? Heaviest? Densest? Whitest?

Only if it's named Chrischristieum

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100420)

"scientists create most beige material yet"
I would love that article

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100538)

Subtext:

"Scientific community indifferent."

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100584)

What's on for next week? Heaviest? Densest? Whitest? Most beige?

A team of engineers claims to have created Dellium, the world's most beige material...

Re:This is getting ridiculous... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100776)

Saw one only like a week ago that was the "stickiest", and a robot who used it to climb walls like a gecko.

But how cheap can they get it? (2)

Chelmet (1273754) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099734)

I understand it'll be horribly expensive right now and that production prices will drop, but cheap enough for the likes of insulation? Or are we talking space station stuff here?

Re:But how cheap can they get it? (3, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100032)

If you want superlight insulation, you can already buy Aerogel [aerogel.com] in bulk quantities. It's not exactly cheap, but it's not completely outrageous either.

Re:But how cheap can they get it? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100064)

As long as it is cheaper that aerogels then it is a significant achievement in material science.

If it costs more than aerogels to produce then it is just another nice research project.

Most probably we are talking space station stuff here, the question is whether it will be used on Earth.

Re:But how cheap can they get it? (3, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100228)

The cnet article someone else linked has a lot more information.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57327382-264/breakthrough-material-is-barely-more-than-air/?part=rss&subj=crave&tag=title [cnet.com]

It looks like this will be significantly cheaper to produce than aerogels and sturdier.

Re:But how cheap can they get it? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100248)

I understand it'll be horribly expensive right now and that production prices will drop, but cheap enough for the likes of insulation?

Or are we talking space station stuff here?

They say it's a good insulator, but I don't understand why -- the picture makes it appear that there are significant holes throughout the material - seemingly enough to allow convective heat losses? I can believe that the metal is too thin for much conduction, but I don't see why convection is not an issue? Seems like Aerogel would make a better insulator.

Re:But how cheap can they get it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100472)

You slap some paper on both the inner and outer side and you solve that problem ASAP.

I like it but (3, Informative)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099762)

Would it be feasible to replace drywall. It sounds like a better insulator than drywall, not to mention its sound dampening effects. What would be the effects of dust from it on the lungs? Will it suffer the same fate as Asbestos?

Re:I like it but (5, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099922)

Due to its expense I can't see this being used as a drywall replacement. Drywall is used to due to how cheap it is, not because it is the best at its job.

If it was used in the same fashion as drywall then the actual lattice would be covered by a paper layer and then acoustic mud, just like drywall.

Re:I like it but (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100870)

bummer. The cost of insulation + noise dampening + assisting the stability of the structure + being the surface object for the walls + potentially eliminating the need for studs all replace by one item that is also light -- adding some relief to homes with peer and beam type foundation -- seemed like a good idea. I went off to check out some prices. Foam injected insulation is about $700/ bd ft, performs well as an insulator, noise dampener, and helps the stability of the structure but you still need studs and drywall. Drywall is cheap as the dirt it is made out of $6.'ish. So this stuff would have to be no more than $150 if you still used studs. It could be as expensive as $300 if you didn't use studs except for areas with windows and doors.

Re:I like it but (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100044)

What?! Your comment does not compute. Thats like saying NASA just built this new rocket, I bet it would work great to heat my house with it!

Drywall's sole purpose is to be a flat surface (ie: a wall) for painting and as a fire resistant to give occupants of buildings slightly more time to get out. Hence the reason they often use double or triple layers of drywall between shared walls. It offers virtually no insulation value whatsoever, which is why its paired with actual insulation on exterior walls.

This material doesn't share [b]any[/b] of those properties in a practical sense. Its obviously porous and would be impractical to paint, not to mention it would probably cost thousands of times more than drywall and be much more difficult to work with.

Re:I like it but (0)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100762)

It's also so incredibly flimsy you can rip it apart with your finger without trying. You couldn't even tickle the wall with a feather without destroying it.

Re:I like it but (-1, Flamebait)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100912)

Your comment does not compute.

Can I assume your lack of understanding of materials, math, and aesthetics, is why you posted as a coward.

Cosplayers rejoice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099794)

My first consideration after reading the article is 'now all those Cloud cosplayers can finally carry durable swords'.

That does assume the costs get low enough, but a sturdy replica giant sword at less than 10kg would improve many such costumes.

Re:Cosplayers rejoice (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100148)

It might even be possible to do that victory sword spin he likes to do so much. I'd have to wonder though if something that big made out of that material wouldn't just bend like a wet noodle.

Re:Cosplayers rejoice (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100426)

The next goal: Ryumon Hozukimaru.

Not that unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38099804)

Caltech is more than likely to make serious breakthroughs.

But is it easier to make? (5, Interesting)

squidflakes (905524) | more than 3 years ago | (#38099942)

The problem with aerogels is that they can be very finicky during production, and unless you make them hydrophobic (or is it hydrophillic?) they can start to dissolve from as little as a single drop of sweat.

Some friends and I got some lab equipment during a "Lost Our Grant" sale, which included a high-pressure autoclave. We thought making aerogel would be a hoot, but damn is that stuff difficult to produce. It is relatively cheap, but during the supercritical drying phase, you'd best not bump the autoclave, and you better have mixed everything right. That stuff is like the comedy souffle of the future.

Anyway, the novelty wears off after you've played with the stuff for 20 minutes. The novelty of watching the cat bat it around takes about an hour.

Re:But is it easier to make? (5, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100348)

Someone linked a cnet article with more information including how it is produced.

From reading it it sounds like it will be easier to produce, but I really don't know a damn thing on this subject.

What's your take?
http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-57327382-264/breakthrough-material-is-barely-more-than-air/?part=rss&subj=crave&tag=title [cnet.com]

The lattice is constructed through several steps, Carter said. First, lasers beam ultraviolet light into a reservoir of a resin that forms polymer fibers when the light hits it. The fibers follow the path the light takes, and using multiple beams creates multiple interconnected fibers.

Next, the rest of the resin is washed away, the polymer fibers are coated with a very thin layer of nickel, and the polymer fibers are then dissolved, leaving only the metal lattice.

The dimensions of the lattice can be adjusted by changing the properties of a perforated mask through which the ultraviolet line is beamed, the paper said.

Re:But is it easier to make? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100606)

1. 3D printing generate a micro structure which is then plated with nickle.
2. When it is done, dissolve the structure.
3. ???
4. Profit

This opens up a whole lot of new possibilities... (1)

BagOCrap (980854) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100050)

In jokes regarding being lightheaded.

Here's my post on this from Thursday (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100252)

I guess the editors didn't appreciate my flights of fancy!

wisebabo writes
"Wow, so here's something that beats even aerogel (which I understand is 99.9% empty space; this new material made from metal, is 99.99% empty space!)!

Anyway, in typical slashdot.fashion, knowing nothing about its mechanical properties (other than the article says it could be a good insulator or sound absorber) not to mention knowing nothing about how it is made or what it costs, let me propose two applications:

1) take a large slab and wrap it in an airtight non-gas permeable membrane. Pump out the air. Voila! You now have a lighter than air structure that doesn't use expensive helium or flammable hydrogen. Let the new age of dirigibles (and floating in mid-air furniture) begin!

2) Find a way to make this from its raw materials in a vacuum and in zero-g (hopefully it won't require a large amount of super-critical fluids like liquid CO2 that aerogels do). Launch a not-too-heavy manufacturing plant into LEO and make a (VERY) big cube or sphere of this stuff. Voila! Just like aerogels, you'll have a material that'll be perfect for capturing or at least slowing down all the hypervelocity space junk just like the "Stardust" and "Genesis" probes did. This'll be perfect for getting all the tiny particles and "flakes" that are too small to chase down, zap with a laser or perhaps even track via telescope or radar. Because it's very light, it'll be economical to launch something very big. (Best to attach an ion engine or some low thrust, high efficiency engine to change/maintain orbit).

2b) Oh well, as long as we're dreaming; if you can make this in space, it'd be perfect for making heat shields that weigh almost nothing (and are very very compact to launch because you're just launching the raw materials right?). Could be useful for any probe that's heading to any planet with an atmosphere or reentry to earth. Good for BIG solar shields (a la the movie "Sunshine") also.

2c) Okay, last one, I promise. If it deforms in a predictable manner, how about using it as an "airbag" replacement? After the (huge) heat shield has done it's work, the space probe could be cushioned upon impact with something stronger than an airbag without being prohibitively heavy. (Won't have to use that crazy "sky crane" like they're going to try with the MSL).

Anyway, here's to totally uninformed speculation!"

Re:Here's my post on this from Thursday (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100482)

1) take a large slab and wrap it in an airtight non-gas permeable membrane. Pump out the air. Voila! You now have a lighter than air structure that doesn't use expensive helium or flammable hydrogen. Let the new age of dirigibles (and floating in mid-air furniture) begin!

U jelly, groundfags? *trollface*

Again? (1)

bittles (1619071) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100258)

Again?

Fp 1CuM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38100288)

Come on baby...and Slashdot 'BSD is surveys show that =L 36400 FreeBSD

It may be the world's lightest material... (1, Redundant)

ToiletBomber (2269914) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100380)

But can it run Linux?

But can you... (0)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100398)

... use it to build a reliable sentry?

Lighter than a supertanker! (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100528)

"The resulting material has a density of 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre. By comparison the density of silica aerogels - the world's lightest solid materials - is only as low as 1.0mg per cubic cm. The metallic micro-lattices have the edge because they consist of 99.99% air and of 0.01% solids."

1 mg/cm3
1 g/dm3
1 kg/m3

Wikipedia: "Seawise Giant, later Happy Giant, Jahre Viking, and Knock Nevis, was a ULCC supertanker and the longest ship ever built, and possessed the greatest deadweight tonnage ever recorded. Fully laden, her displacement was 657,019 tonnes (646,642 long tons; 724,239 short tons), the heaviest ship of any kind, and with a draft of 24.6 m (81 ft), she was incapable of navigating the English Channel, the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seawise_Giant [wikipedia.org]

"Tonnage: 260,941 GT
214,793 NT
Displacement: 81,879 long tons light ship
646,642 long tons full load
Length: 458.45 m (1,504.10 ft)
Beam: 68.8 m (225.72 ft)
Draught: 24.611 m (80.74 ft)
Depth: 29.8 m (97.77 ft)
Propulsion: Steam Turbine
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Capacity: 564,763 DWT"

458x30x688=9453120 m3

646642000/9453120 = 68.4 kg/m3

So, it has a lower density than a supertanker!

Electrical properties? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100620)

it's potentially useful for insulation, battery electrodes

Sounds like a neat trick if you can do it.

It's not the "lightest" substance (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#38100860)

It's not the "lightest substance". It might be the least dense (important distinction). And it might not be, because I would have thought that gaseous helium would be less dense. Perhaps they mean "least dense solid"?
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