By Sean McQuillan
You’re probably familiar with Aerogel, or “Frozen Smoke” as it made its rounds on science shows, and even on “Penn and Teller Tell a Lie.” It’s amazing stuff, used by NASA for space suits and it’s 99.9% air.
And as Penn and Teller point out, it can stop a flamethrower!
It’s come to be known as the world’s lightest solid, but not anymore. Scientists have now developed a “Micro Lattice” material with a density of 0.9 mg/cm3 (Compared to 4 mg/cm3 of Aerogel) and it is 99.99% air. Rather than looking something like a sponge, in the 0.01% that is there, this material consists of a micro-lattice of interconnected hollow nickel-phosphorous tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers – or 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Can it stop a flamethrower? Well that remains to be seen, it’s not currently ready for such large production, but the developers do say that it’s structure lends it incredible flexibility, with the ability to completely recover from compression exceeding 50 percent strain. Neat!