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The lightest material in the world?

By Tim Sandle
Posted Jul 20, 2012 in Science
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.

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