Scientists have found a new way to structure carbon at the nanoscale, making a material that's superior to diamond on the strength-to-density ratio.

While the tiny carbon lattice has been fabricated and tested in the lab, it's a very long way off practical use. But this new approach could help us build stronger and lighter materials in the future - which is something that's of great interest to industries such as aerospace and aviation.

What we're talking about here is something known as a nanolattices - porous structures like the one in the image above that's made up of three-dimensional carbon struts and braces. Due to their unique structure, they're incredibly strong and lightweight.

Usually these nanolattices are based around a cylindrical framework (they're called beam-nanolattices). But the team has now created plate-nanolattices, structures based around tiny plates.

This subtle shift may not sound like much, but the researchers say it can make a big difference when it comes to strength.

Based on early experiments and calculations, the plate approach promises a 639 percent increase in strength and a 522 percent increase in rigidity over the beam nanolattice approach.

"Scientists have predicted that nanolattices arranged in a plate-based design would be incredibly strong," says materials scientist Cameron Crook, from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).
加利福尼亚大学尔湾分校材料科学家Cameron Crook说:“科学家预测平板设计的纳米晶格会异常坚固。”

"But the difficulty in manufacturing structures this way meant that the theory was never proven, until we succeeded in doing it."