“Now, what we’ve all been waiting for — where can we use this material? Carter and Jacobsen assert that their research is still in the early stages, but they predict there will be applications in many fields, including medicine and energy. The ultralight metallic microlattices can be also used in batteries. It works similar to the way nickel metal hydride batteries are made — we start out with a 3-D electrical conductor that is made of nickel, and then add the active material in the battery, which allows us to make very cheap, very thick electrodes in the battery. On the other hand, lithium ion batteries are promising, but they don’t have the wonderful, 3-D electrode that the nickel metal hydride battery has. Carter notes that one could go down this road with the ultralight metallic microlattices. It would make batteries cheaper to produce, and material that doesn’t contribute to energy storage inside the battery can be minimized.
Why has nobody done this before? It’s because they didn’t have a cost effective method. But, with the microlattices, we now might be able to have better batteries.
The ultralight metallic microlattices also have great use in energy absorption. The future of vehicle technologies is going to be towards lighter weight for fuel efficiency. A lightweight vehicle doesn’t take too much energy to accelerate and decelerate. However, we are looking for materials that will be lightweight without compromising the effectiveness of the vehicle. People want to be in a vehicle that feels stable and comfortable. These microlattices could be useful in application to provide both a structural and energy absorption function.
Jacobsen mentions that the material can be mass-produced at competitive market prices.
Previously, nanotech or nanoscale phenomenon has been limited to particles and thin films. Now with the ultralight metallic microlattices, there’s a new tool that we can use — taking a thin tube and coating on the micromatrix to make a useful, 3-D material.
Folks, sturdy and lightweight are now synonymous.”