Aerographite – the worlds lightest material

German material scientists from Kiel University and the Hamburg University of Technology have created the world’s lightest material, dubbed aerographite. One cubic centimeter of aerographite weighs just 0.2 milligrams, which is four times lighter than the previous record holder, 5,000 times less dense than water, and six times lighter than air. Aerographite is a mesh of carbon tubes, each around 15nm in diameter, interwoven at the micro- and nano-scale level. It is electrically conductive, ductile, jet black (non-transparent), and can withstand high compression and ten- sile loads. Aerographite can be compressed to a 30th of its original size, gaining extra strength and conductivity in the process, and spring back without any damage to its structure — or it can carry up to 40,000 times its own weight.

“Think of the aerographite as an ivy-web, which winds itself around a tree. And then take away the tree”, says Rainer Adelung, a professor at Kiel University. The “trees” in this case are zinc oxide crystals, which are shaped like four-sided jacks. The crystals are then placed in an oven and coated with a layer of carbon using chemical vapor deposition (CVD). At the same time, hydrogen gas is added to the oven, which steals the oxygen away from the zinc oxide. The zinc falls to the floor of the oven, leaving just the outer skeleton of carbon — aerographite. The graphene aerogel can absorb 900 times its own weight in oil and water, the intrucudction of Aero- graphite is therfore a huge impact in the industry of oil contaminated waters after addcidents. Further- more it will be possible to reuse the absorbed substances and the graphene aerogel after the cleanup.

 

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Original sources: http://www.dvice.com/2013-3-28/world-has-new-lightest-material-graphene-aerogel http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/133056-aerographite-six-times-lighter-than-air-conductive-and-super- strong

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