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Have you ever felt this ultra light material known as Aerogel? Aerogel is said to be so light that it is often called “Frozen smoke”. This material seems that it will vanish just like a puff of smoke but surprisingly it is 10,000 times stiffer. Such materials have profound importance in aerospace and automobile industries where light weight yet high strength materials looks to be the future.
Researchers at MIT and Lawrence Liverpool National Laboratory (LLNL) have created a material with light weight and high strength properties. Such materials are not readily found in nature. These artificial materials as named by the team “micro-architectured metamaterials” were manufactured using additive micro-manufacturing process similar to 3D technology.
Most light weight materials cannot tolerate huge loads because of their structural capability. However, the micro metamaterials have shown some astounding features. They can with stand 160,000 times their own weight due to highly constrained structural design.
A researcher at LLNL, spadaccini said, “It’s among the lightest materials in the world. However, because of its micro-architected layout, it performs with four orders of magnitude higher stiffness than aerogel at a comparable density.”
The process used to construct these artificial materials is none other than the most heard of 3D technology. In this process complex structures are manufactured layer by layer using photosensitive feedstock material. This is otherwise very difficult to fabricate.
The project is funded by Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA). You can read more about their research here.