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New "featherweight" meta-material developed

Photo of new composite material
A new composite material combines ultra-lightweight with flame-resistance, super-elasticity and other attributes that could make it ideal for various applications. Here, the material is viewed with a scanning electron microscope, while its flame resistance is put to the test. (Purdue University photo)
A new featherweight, flame-resistant and super-elastic “metamaterial” has been shown to combine high strength with electrical conductivity and thermal insulation, suggesting potential applications from buildings to aerospace. The composite combines nanolayers of a ceramic called aluminum oxide with graphene, which is an extremely thin sheet of carbon.

"This material is lighter than a feather," said Associate Professor Gary Cheng, one of the team who developed the material. "The density is really low. It has a very high strength-to-weight ratio."

Findings were detailed in a research paper published on May 29 in the journal Advanced Materials. The paper was a collaboration between Purdue, Lanzhou University and the Harbin Institute of Technology, both in China, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. A research highlight about the work appeared in the journal Nature Research Materials.

Watch the YouTube video about the work.

Read the full article by Emil Venere in Purdue News (August 9): "Super-light material possesses high strength, other attributes"