In the world of performance materials, we can be pretty demanding. We want things to be strong but light, flexible but resilient, high quality but easily manufactured and sustainable. UC Santa Barbara mechanical engineer and materials scientist Jonathan Berger has developed a material that can fulfill all those ideals — a solid foam that he describes as “the most efficient in the Universe.”
Called Isomax, this material could also be easily manufactured and, with fairly minor tweaks, changed to emphasize different properties to function in various ways without sacrificing its structural integrity.
According to Berger, the Isomax foam, in comparison to other similar engineering materials, has the highest stiffness to lightness ratio, meaning that for its relatively low density, it has the highest stiffness, resisting crushing and shearing forces that would buckle and flatten denser, heavier materials.