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What Is the Lightest Metal?

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These are ingots of pure lithium metal, showing a thin layer of black oxide tarnish.

These are ingots of pure lithium metal, showing a thin layer of black oxide tarnish. Lithium is the lightest elemental metal.

Dnn87, Free Documentation License

Question: What Is the Lightest Metal?

You may think of metals as heavy or dense. This is true of most metals, but there are some that are lighter than water and even some that are nearly as light as air. Here's a look at the world's lightest metal.

Answer: The lightest or least dense metal that is a pure element is lithium, which has a density of 0.534 g/cm3. This makes lithium nearly half as dense as water, so if lithium was not so reactive, a chunk of the metal would float on water.

Two other metallic elements are less dense than water. Potassium has a density of 0.862 g/cm3 while sodium has a density of 0.971 g/cm3.

Although the elemental metals may be lighter than water, they are heavier than some alloys. The lightest metal is a lattice of nickel phosphorous tubes that was developed by researchers at the University of California Irvine. This metallic micro-lattice is 100x lighter than a piece of polystyrene foam (e.g., Styrofoam). One famous photograph shows the lattice resting on top of a dandelion that has gone to seed.

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Elements Listed According to Density

 

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