Lightweight, ultra-tough, 3D-architected hybrid carbon microlattices

James Utama Surjadi, Yongsen Zhou, Siping Huang, Liqiang Wang, Maoyuan Li, Sufeng Fan, Xiaocui Li, Jingzhuo Zhou, Raymond H.W. Lam, Zuankai Wang, Yang Lu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A lightweight material with simultaneous high strength and ductility can be dubbed the “Holy Grail” of structural materials, but these properties are generally mutually exclusive. Thus far, pyrolytic carbon micro/nanolattices are a premium solution for ultra-high strength at low densities, but intrinsic brittleness and low toughness limits their structural applications. Here, we break the perception of pyrolyzed materials by demonstrating a low-cost, facile pyrolysis process, i.e., partial carbonization, to drastically enhance both the strength and ductility of a three-dimensional (3D)-printed brittle photopolymer microlattice simultaneously, resulting in ultra-high specific energy absorption of up to 60 J g−1 (>100 times higher than the original) without fracture at strains above 50%. Furthermore, the partially carbonized microlattice shows improved biocompatibility over its pure polymer counterpart, potentially unlocking its biomedical and multifunctional applications. This method would allow a new class of hybrid carbon mechanical metamaterials with lightweight, high toughness, and virtually any geometry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4029-4046
Number of pages18
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D printing
  • architected material
  • biocompatibility
  • MAP4: Demonstrate
  • mechanical metamaterial
  • microlattice
  • pyrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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