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Light Material Features Steel Strength

Friday, February 14, 2014

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Scientists in Germany say they have created a material that is lighter than water, but stronger than steel.

Inspired by bone and wood, a team from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has developed a stable lightweight material that could potentially be used in numerous applications, including construction.

The research, led by Jens Bauer, was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Material Development

The team used 3D laser lithography to develop the microstructure, according to an announcement by the scientists and reports on the research.

Microarchitecture
J. Bauer / KIT

The lattice construction and ceramic-polymer composite material is particularly stable, even though the individual elements are only a few hundred nanometers thick, the scientists report.

A thin layer of alumina (aluminum oxide) was used to coat the structure before stress tests. The coating provided an increase in density, but the material was still less dense than water.

According to the researchers, the strongest microstructure featured a specific honeycomb internal structure with slightly curved walls so as to avert the dangers of buckling and was coated with a 50 nanometer-thick layer of alumina.

“The new lightweight material [is] similar to the skeleton of a half-timbered house with horizontal, vertical and diagonal braces,” Bauer said in a statement.

“It beats all natural and man-made materials that are lighter than 1000kg/m3, being able to withstand a load of 280MPa (mega pascals is a unit of measuring pressure), which makes it as strong as some forms of steel,” reports on the research note.

Size Limitations

The laser system used to make the material can only produce objects that are tens of micrometers in size, thus real-life application is still limited.

However, with new developments in 3D printing and laser technology, this fabricated material may soon compete with some forms of steel or aluminum, the scientists say.

   

Tagged categories: Aluminum; Nanotechnology; Research; Steel; Wood

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