Boeing, in search of lighter materials for its planes, has come up with the world's lightest metal. The Microlattice is not only the lightest metal ever made but has also broken records for strength.
The idea is to one-day use this material in planes to offer a strong structural building block that's also ridiculously light. That should mean great savings in weight and, ultimately, in fuel costs.
The Microlattice is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam. That's because the entire structure is essentially 99.99 per cent air. The 3D polymer structure is comparable to bones in that outside is rigid but inside is hollow. The result is a strong yet lightweight structure.
Thanks to the ability to build the lattice in vary forms it will be able to offer high-energy absorption from external forces. The result could be a plane, car, spacecraft or whatever, that's strong yet super light. Perhaps in future robotics this could be very useful.
Examples of real world use given by Boeing include less sensitive areas of the plane like the inner walls or overhead cabin and walkway areas. So this isn't going to replace aluminium or steel but it could supplement them for lighter, more efficient vehicles in the near future.