The lighter a structure launching into air, the better. That's one of the reasons why ostriches can't fly--because their bones are solid instead of hollow. It's also one of the reasons why researchers at HRL Laboratories created the lightest metal known to man.
The researchers collaborated with scientists at Caltech and UC Irvine to design metallic microlattice, a mesh lighter than styrofoam, for aerospace structural components. The material is so light, it can sit atop a dandelion without crushing it.
But that doesn't mean it isn't strong. The material can handle a strain exceeding 50 percent in compression tests and still resume to its original shape and 98 percent of its height once the load is removed.
Other materials that fall into the ultralight category (below 10 mg/cm3), such as silica aerogels, carbon nanotube aerogels, metallic foams and polymer foams, have very random cellular architectures.
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