Formed with struts and braces measuring less than 10 micrometers in length and less than 200 nanometers in diameter, the 3D lattice has a total size of less than 10 micrometers, but boasts a higher specific strength than most solids.
The KIT team says the lattice achieves new strength to density ratios for metamaterials (man-made materials that have properties not found in nature), thanks to dimensions that are smaller than comparable metamaterials by a factor of five. It is made of glassy carbon, which is a form of pure carbon that boasts both glassy, ceramic properties and graphite properties.
Production of the lattice started with an established 3D lithography process, is which the structure is hardened in a photoresist by computer-controlled lasers. This process is limited to producing struts ranging from around 5 to 10 micrometers in length and 1 micrometer in diameter, so the team then vitrified and further shrunk the lattice through –in what they claim is a first for the manufacture of microstructured lattices – pyrolysis.