An American corporation that produces aircrafts has released a video that shows a lightweight material called microlattice metal. Dubbed as the world's lightest metal, the microlattice is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, and is so lightweight that it can be balanced on top of a dandelion, scientists say.

Boeing, an aerospace company known for its airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets and satellites, released a video of the microlattice metal first developed by a team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine, HRL Laboratories and the California Institute of Technology in 2011.

The microlattice is an interconnected criss-cross of hollow tubes positioned in diagonal patterns. Dr. Tobias Schaedler, lead author of the study published in the journal Science, said that each polymer structure has a thickness of 100 nanometers which makes it 1,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. The initial prototypes for the microlattice were made from a nickel-phosphorus alloy.

"By changing the structure at these levels you get completely different properties from the bulk material, which is a very powerful concept," said Schaedler.

Sophia Yang, research scientist at HRL Laboratories, explained that the microlattice is mostly 99.99% air. In the video, she compared the microlattice to the structure of human bones where the outside is very rigid while the inside is mostly hollow. Because of this, bones aren't easily crushed but are lightweight, she said.

Yang also discussed the microlattice's potential uses. She said that it can possibly be applied in heat transfer, shock absorption or structural reinforcement. The microlattice can be possibly developed into a component used in airplanes, which would make the aircraft become more lightweight and more fuel-efficient.

"It's really exciting to be able to work with things that we make that can eventually go into a real product that a lot of users can interact with," Yang said.

Yang compared the microlattice's compact structure to the egg drop challenge. If you wrap an egg with three-feet of bubble wrap and drop it from a high building, in theory, you would still be uncertain if the egg falls unharmed. If the is egg wrapped within a compact microlattice, the material would absorb the egg's force and it will fall in one piece.

Meanwhile, researchers have yet to further look into its practical applications.

Watch the video here:

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