Aerographite has been declared as the lightest material in the world (weighing 0.2mg per cubic centimetre). The material is made from a powdered zinc oxide which was then transformed into a crystalline form by heating to 900°C.
Aerographite is a network of porous carbon tubes three-dimensionally interwoven at nano and micro levels; it’s lightweight; stable; electrically conductive; ductile; and non-transparent. It is also very strong.
The previous record-holder was a nickel-based tube with porous walls, but since carbon has a lower atomic mass than nickel, these tubes are lighter. The highly resilient material also has excellent compression – it can be compressed up to 95% and pulled back to its original form without any damage – and tension load.
The material has several possible applications: it could fit onto the electrodes of Li-ion batteries; be used in electronics for aviation and satellites; or used as an absorbent for persistent water pollutants.
For further details, refer to a paper by Mecklenburg et al, published in the journal Advanced Materials.