At a glance 1 min

The super lightweight microlattice

The super lightweight microlattice
The super lightweight microlattice

Microlattice, a very durable material made up of 99.9% of air, could be the world's lightest material.  Boeing believes that it could help to revolutionise the fuselage of its aircraft.
Four years ago, a team of American researchers developed an incredible material: a sort of mesh, inspired by the structure of bone - thick and rigid at its edges and with many cavities in its heart. The material was made by assembling tiny hollow tubes, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, manufactured from a liquid polymer hardened under UV rays and then coated with a film of nickel and phosphorous to stabilise it. Microlattice, that's its name, has now re-emerged thanks to Boeing. The manufacturer hopes to incorporate it into the production of its "structural components" for aircraft.

Using such a material to build airplanes could help save fuel, and provide a more solid shell while avoiding any increase in weight. In addition to being resistant, the material can be deformed and compressed which helps it to better absorb shocks. It can be compressed to less than 50% of its original size and still rebound to its original shape. 

Boeing hopes to incorporate the material into the manufacture of its "structural components" for aircraft, with the aim of developing new airplanes that are lighter and therefore requiring less fuel.

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