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Aluminum oxide nanolattice structures are crushed and stretched, revealing a strength-to-density ratio higher than any other reported material.
Caltech professor of materials science, mechanics and medical engineering Julia Greer, along with former graduate student Arturo Mateos and collaborators Yong-Wei Zhang and Wei Huang from the Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore, have engineered and stress-tested a new material comprised of 50-nanometer thick aluminum oxide nanolattices. These structures, known as architected materials, were found to exhibit compelling physical properties such as being lightweight and strong.
Moreover, during their testing, the researchers found that the failure of these architected materials follow classical continuum mechanics. Classical continuum mechanics models the behavior of a material as a continuous mass (e.g. completely filling the space it occupies) rather than as discrete (e.g. individual) particles, indicating that the nanolattices possess unique dual properties.
The team also observed that the new material has a strength-over-density ratio that is four times higher than that of any other reported material to date. Better understanding of the properties and nature of architected materials such as these has the potential to create more robust, more efficient, and safer building materials for use in civil engineering, aerospace, and beyond.
Read more about the Greer group's collaboration here. The group published the article, "Discrete‐Continuum Duality of Architected Materials: Failure, Flaws, and Fracture" about their findings in the December issue of Advanced Functional Materials. A portion of the project's fabrication was performed in the KNI cleanroom facilities.