Researchers at Columbia University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have created a material that is stronger than steel and incredibly lightweight by coating DNA with a pure form of glass. DNA molecules can be programmed to self-assemble into specific shapes, which can then be used as building blocks to form larger structures. The scientists used a very thin layer of silica glass to coat the DNA frames, creating an ultra-light material that is resistant to flaws and defects. Nanoindentation, a technique that applies and measures resistive forces on a very small scale, was used to test the strength of the material. The glass-coated DNA lattice was found to be four times stronger than steel, with a density five times lower. The researchers plan to study other materials, such as carbide ceramics, to create even stronger lightweight materials in the future. Collaboration between the academic and national lab communities was key to the success of the project. The researchers are excited about the potential applications of this new material and plan to further investigate its properties.
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