Boeing is considering using metallic microlattice in future airplanes and yes, it is balanced on top of the head of a dandelion. It’s “approximately one hundred times lighter than Styrofoam” (from HRL Laboratories) – that’s how lightweight this new material is. It is described as an “ordered network of interconnected hollow struts made from a nickel-phosphorus alloy” (from Chemistry World) and was created by HRL Laboratories. It has great compression and energy absorption characteristics in addition to being incredibly lightweight. After 50% compression, it recovers 98% of its original structure with almost no damage (youtube video from Chemistry World, UK). Apparently you could wrap an egg in this material and safely drop it from a 25 story building without breaking it (according to the Boeing website). Research scientist Sophia Yang, with HRL Laboratories, states that the microlattice is 99.99% air and hopes that it can be used in the future for airplane or other vehicle structural components thus saving weight and making them more fuel efficient.
The Gadgeteer may receive a commission on purchases made from affiliate links on our posts.