Lorenzo Valdevit is a Member of 2012 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award-Winning Team

“World’s Lightest Material” wins Breakthrough Award

Assistant Professor Lorenzo Valdevit, Ph.D., Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, with a team of researchers from HRL Laboratories, LLC; The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine; and the California Institute of Technology, has been awarded a 2012 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in their Innovator category for their team’s development of a micro-lattice ultralight metal.  

The material is light enough to sit atop a dandelion’s fluffy seeds without damaging them, yet is also strong. The researchers were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 percent open volume by designing the 0.01 percent solid at the nanometer, micron and millimeter scales using an innovative fabrication process.

"I am really honored to be selected as one of the winners,” Valdevit said. “The material we have developed is ultralight and ultra-compressible, but even more importantly it is a unique platform for a novel methodology. This development has been the result of a truly unique collaboration: I want to thank my colleagues and friends at HRL and Caltech for creating such an enjoyable research environment."