A group of materials scientists, chemists, and modelers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Groningen (Netherland), and UCLA (Prof. Morris Wang) have created a new class of ultralight and stiff carbon tube-in-tube structures via a 3D printing technique called direct laser writing – two photon polymerization (DLW-TPP). The nanoscale strutted tube-in-tube sandwich design (see the figure below) drastically slows down the decrease in stiffness with decreasing foam density – a known challenge in materials science. Significantly, the DLW-TPP materials also exhibit large elastic deformation recovery (~30-50%) under compression and have high specific damping merit index. These materials simultaneously realize high modulus – low density and high modulus – high damping properties and may open up a wide range of applications that require materials with ultra-light weight and large surface areas. This work was published in the journal of Nature Materials and garnered the front cover of November (2021) issue.

Scanning Electron Micrographs of 3D printed carbon tube-in-tube ultra-low density foam structures. The density of the foam is 15.1 mg/cc.