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Lighter Than Water, Stronger Than Steel

Researchers in Germany have made a significant advance in creating lightweight, tough materials by taking a note from bone, wood and honeycombs.

A Karlsruhe Institute of Technology team fabricated polymer and alumina composites in a regular framework structure using 3-D laser lithography. Their hierarchical microarchitecture achieved extremely porous materials with strength-to-density ratios higher than bone, aluminum or steel.

“The novel lightweight construction materials resemble the framework structure of a half-timbered house with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal struts,” said Jens Bauer, a microarchitecture expert who lead the research, in a statement.

Their samples contained 45 percent to more than 90 percent air, making them extremely lightweight while also withstanding more than 46,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. They published their work recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

All gifs and images courtesy Jens Bauer/Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

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