February 2, 2016

Nature Materials: Smallest Lattice Structure Worldwide

The smallest lattice in the world is visible under the microscope only. Struts and braces
are 0.2 µm in diameter. Total size of the lattice is about 10 µm. (Photo: J. Bauer / KIT)

(February 2, 2016)  3D Lattice with Glassy Carbon Struts and Braces of Less Than 200 nm in Diameter Has Higher Specific Strength Than Most Solids

KIT scientists now present the smallest lattice structure made by man in the Nature Materials journal. Its struts and braces are made of glassy carbon and are less than 1 µm long and 200 nm in diameter. They are smaller than comparable metamaterials by a factor of 5. The small dimension results in so far unreached ratios of strength to density. Applications as electrodes, filters or optical components might be possible. (DOI: 10.1038/nmat4561)

“Lightweight construction materials, such as bones and wood, are found everywhere in nature,” Dr.-Ing. Jens Bauer of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the first author of the study, explains. “They have a high load-bearing capacity and small weight and, hence, serve as models for mechanical metamaterials for technical applications.”

Metamaterials are materials, whose structures of some micrometers (millionths of a meter) in dimension are planned and manufactured specifically for them to possess mechanical or optical properties that cannot be reached by unstructured solids. Examples are invisibility cloaks that guide light, sound or heat around objects, materials that counterintuitively react to pressure and shear (auxetic materials) or lightweight nanomaterials of high specific stability (force per unit area and density).

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