Airplane maker Boeing has released a new video showing off a metal that it’s invented, going so far as to claim that it is “99.99% air,” even featuring a clip of someone blowing a piece off the palm of their hand, as one would do to a feather. Dubbed microlattice, not only is the material incredibly light, but it’s very flexible as well, with the ability to bend and flex as well as compress under pressure.
The video, embedded below, details that microlattice is made up of lots of tiny hollow tubes that intersect one another in a criss-cross pattern. In between all these tubes is empty space, leaving plenty of room for air.
Research scientist Sophia Yang explains that in addition to being incredibly light, microlattice’s other main property is its strength, in that it can compress to absorb energy. Yang uses an example of dropping an egg off a 25-story building, and that would need to be wrapped in several feet of bubble wrap to keep from breaking. But with microlatice, a much, much smaller enclosure could be built around the egg, not only saving space and reducing weight, but also remaining strong enough to protect it from impact.
Boeing says its work on the material is almost complete, and hopes to put it to use one day in airplanes, as well as cars and the structural components of other objects. In the case of airplanes, Yang mentions that microlatice could reduce a craft’s weight, and in turn improve fuel efficiency.