Scientists of Kiel University (KU) and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) have named their joint creation “Aerographite”, which is the new lightest material in the world.
Composed of a network of porous carbon tubes that are three-dimensionally interwoven at nano and micro level, it only weighs 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter. That’s 75 times lighter than Styrofoam, but it’s actually a very strong material.
It is jet-black and remains stable. It is electrically conductive, ductile and non-transparent too. With these unique properties and its very low density the carbon-made material “Aerographite” clearly outperforms all similar materials.
“Our work is causing great discussions in the scientific community. Aerographite weights four times less than world-record-holder up to now,” says Matthias Mecklenburg, co-author and Ph.D. student at the TUHH.
The hitherto lightest material of the world, a nickel material that was presented to the public about six months ago, was also constructed of tiny tubes. Only, nickel has a higher atomic mass than carbon.
The material is highly resilient though, it can be compressed up to 95 percent and then be pulled back to its original form with no damage. The addition of weight stress actually makes the material even stronger, to a point. The material is robust enough to support 40,000 times its own weight.
The scientist tested this by compressing a three-millimeter-tall piece of Aerographite down to a few hundred micrometers.
According to the researchers, the new material could allow for great reductions in battery weight, leading to more efficient electric cars and bikes. Other possible uses mentioned by the researchers include in aviation and satellites, thanks to its high tolerance for vibration, and for use in water and air purification.
The material also has a few other interesting properties like it readily absorbs visible light, and is opaque to X-rays.