The actual production of such materials is made possible by a high-precision 3-D printing process called projection microstereolithography.
Normally, stiffness and strength declines with the density of any material; that’s why when bone density decreases, fractures become more likely. But using the right mathematically determined structures to distribute and direct the loads, the lighter structure can maintain its strength.
This newly invented material is among the lightest in the world.
These matericals can easily withstand a load of more than 160,000 times their own weight.
By Using light to imprint features onto polymer or plastic, the researchers disproved the established diffraction limit, and they proved first time that it is possible to print sub-wavelength features one-hundredth the thickness of a human hair. This discovery allows manufacturers to imprint finer features into items such as DVDs to significantly improve storage capabilities, or to probe the traffic of protein or DNA.
This approach could be useful anywhere there’s a need for a combination of high stiffness (for load bearing), high strength, and light weight — such as in structures to be deployed in space, where every bit of weight adds significantly to the cost of launch. But the Researcher says there may also be applications at smaller scale, such as in batteries for portable devices, where reduced weight is also highly desirable.
As this research was funded by DARPA, it could also end up on robots and drones.