Cars Lite

Does your car need to go on a diet?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Wish your gas-guzzler got more miles to the gallon? It would if it wasn’t so heavy! Steel accounts for more than FIFTY PERCENT of average car weight!

Replacing steel with a lightweight alternative? Sounds like an easy fix! Unfortunately, very few materials are both strong AND lightweight.

Enter Julia Greer and her team from Caltech and Tsinghua University. They believe carbon is the next big thing!

Greer’s team has developed pyrolytic carbon. It’s a unique form of carbon, different from graphite or diamond. The atoms in pyrolytic carbon form intricate patterns, like lace. The researchers then squished and pulled this material to test its mechanical properties.


Pyrolytic carbon is STRONGER than steel, and as light as a polyester shirt! It is also surprisingly squishy, like rubber, bouncing right back when deformed. This combination of properties could make pyrolytic carbon the future of automotive and aerospace design!!

I wonder if that would help my ninety-five civic get more miles per gallon?