by Science Writer Kim Woolcock
Materials that are both strong and lightweight have myriad applications, from more energy-efficient electric cars to better medical devices. Researchers at the Department of Energy Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia University, and University of Connecticut have created a material that is four times stronger and five times lighter than steel using self-assembling DNA nanolattices thinly coated in silica. The material owes its strength to nano-level details: perfect placement of lattice elements and the strength of ultra-thin films of silica. The DNA templating method could be adapted to make lattices of various shapes coated with various materials. The open-access paper “High-Strength, Lightweight Nano-Architected Silica” was published in Cell Reports Physical Science on July 19, 2023.