Researchers in Germany at the Technical University of Hamburg and the University of Kiel have reportedly created the world’s lightest material, according to an academic paper published in the journal Advanced Materials.
The material, called aerographite, is made of 99.9 percent air. Aerographite is a matrix of hollow carbon tubes, and each cubic centimeter of the complex lattice weighs 0.2 milligrams. According to New Scientist, the material’s sponge-like tubes are approx. 400 times lighter than Styrofoam. The material’s ability to conduct electricity means it could eventually be used to create an extremely lightweight battery.
The sponge-like material can be compressed to a thousandth of its size before going back to its original shape. It also can support more than 40,000 times its own weight, according to researchers. The material is produced using a process called chemical vapor deposition.
“We were looking for three-dimensionally cross-linked carbon structures, and we discovered this material,” stated Karl Schulte, a researcher from the Institute for Composite Materials located in Germany.
In the past, a substance called aerogel held the title of lightest solid in the world, with a density of one milligram per cubic centimeter. NASA used the insulating material to collect samples of comet dust, according to reports. Last year, another micro-lattice material that weighed 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter, surpassed aerogel for record of lightest solid.
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