In 2011, there was an article published in Science about a revolutionary new structure known as microlattice. Despite being made entirely from metal, this stuff is 100 times lighter than styrofoam — so light, in fact, that it can rest on top of a dandelion blossom without destroying it. Back then, the material was still in the experimental phases, but now Boeing has put together a short film explaining how it’s possible to build such a mind-bogglingly lightweight structure out of metal.
According to the researchers at HRL Laboratories — the lab that developed the structure over four years ago– microlattice gets its strength from its nanoscale “open cell” structure. Similar to how your bones are solid on the outside and mostly hollow on the inside, the lattice consists of a solid outer layer filled with a sparse network of interconnected tubes — each of which is a thousandth the width of a human hair.