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If you drop an aluminum spoon in a sink full of water, the spoon will sink to the bottom. That's because aluminum, in its conventional form, is denser than water says Utah State University chemist Alexander Boldyrev.

 

But if you restructure the common household metal at the molecular level, as Boldyrev and colleagues did using computational modeling, you could produce an ultra-light crystalline form of aluminum that's lighter than water. Boldyrev, along with scientists Iliya Getmanskii, Vitaliy Koval, Rusian Minyaev and Vladimir Minkin of Southern Federal University in Rostov-on Don, Russia, published findings in the Sept. 18, 2017, online edition of 'The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.'

 

The team's research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Russian Ministry of Science and Education.

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