Scientists have developed a new lightweight but very strong material inspired by the intricate microscopic architecture of human bones, a finding that could pave the way for lighter and cheaper spacecraft.
The material, developed using a high-tech 3D printer, could help create future super-light materials that could be used in microfluidics devices or to make lighter spacecraft. "It's a longstanding aim in engineering to create new materials which are even lighter and stronger," said lead author Jens Bauer, a mechanical engineer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany.
Wood and bone are porous but still very strong — and it's because of how the air pockets are arranged. There's a complex architectural pattern to the bits of bone crisscrossing through all those air pockets that are designed to bear loads.
Researchers used a 3D laser lithography machine to build very tiny micro-structures out of a ceramic-polymer composite.
The researchers said that these light building materials were remarkably tough — they exceeded the strength to weight ratio of all engineering materials with a density less than that of water.