Technology 3 min read

Metallic Wood: The Supermaterial Revolutionizing Manufacturing

A microscopic sample of the researchers’ “metallic wood.” | Image via The University of Pennsylvania.

A microscopic sample of the researchers’ “metallic wood.” | Image via The University of Pennsylvania.

In a breakthrough discovery, researchers have created a metallic wood material that could fundamentally change how we manufacture every modern product.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have created a material that could change the manufacturing industry as we know it. And they’re calling it “metallic wood”.

According to reports, not only is the material as strong as titanium, but it’s lighter than aluminum and floats on water.

There’s just one small issue; the researchers can only produce the material in small quantities.

However, if they manage to scale-up the production, the metallic wood could be a game changer. From highly durable smartphones to super-light cars, the material could be used in every manufacturing process.

How The Researchers Created The Metallic Wood

In a recent study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports, the researchers described how they created the metallic wood.

They started by suspending tiny plastic spheres – a few nanometers wide – in water, before evaporating it. As a result, the sphere re-arranged itself in an orderly pattern.

Using a process known as electroplating, the researchers then coated the spheres in nickel before finally dissolving it in a solvent. The result was a well-structured nickel lattice.

But, if the material is composed of nickel, why is it called a metallic wood?

Since 70 percent of the material is empty space, the metallic wood is as dense as real wood. But, that’s not all they have in common.

According to researcher James Pikul, the cellular material of the metallic wood is also as porous as what you’ll find in a wood grain.

Pikul noted that:

“The reason we call it metallic wood is not just its density, which is about that of wood, but its cellular nature.”

Simply put, while the material was created using metal, it’s density as well as cellular nature is similar to wood.

Potential Application of the Metallic Wood

At the moment, it takes almost a day to create a postage stamp-sized piece. However, if the researchers figure out how to effectively scale-up the process, the possible uses are endless.

From coating electronic materials to increase durability to designing buildings with a new strength-to-weight ratio, the metallic wood offers numerous benefits.

In a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer, associate professor of materials science and engineering at University of California, Timothy J. Rupert said:

“One could imagine making a car with the same safety standards used today but a much, much lighter weight. This would have enormous implications for energy efficiency.”

Read More: Scientists Develop a Terminator-like Stretchable Liquid Metal

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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    Shannon Harrington April 14 at 10:37 am GMT

    Metallic wood seems hard to produce, what is mainly the cause?

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