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Graphene and aerogel rank highly among materials considered the lightest and strongest on the planet, but they both pale in comparison to aerographene, or graphene-based aerogel. With a density of just 0.16 milligrams (mg) per cubic centimeter, aerographene is widely considered the world’s lightest material.
What Is Aerographene?
As the name implies, aerographene is a mixture of graphene and aerogel. This extraordinary material is seven times lighter than air, can fully recover from more than 90% compression, and can absorb 900 times its weight in oil.
It has emerged as the least dense material known to science and can be held by a single blade of grass while also being ten times stronger than steel.
In 2013, a group of scientists led by Gao Chao discovered aerographene at Zhejiang University. The team formally developed graphene-based materials, which were exclusively 1-D or 2-D compounds. They initially freeze-dried graphene oxide with carbon nanotube solutions and removed oxygen. The result was a three-dimensional material known as aerographene.
While still relatively new, the material is quickly gaining traction.
Like most remarkable discoveries, aerographene might sound like a pipe dream that’s a long way off. But it boasts some fantastic applications.
Due to its exceptional qualities, this material can be utilized for a wide variety of purposes, including removing dyes and oils from water, in air purification as super-capacitors, in electrochemical power sources as electrodes, and water waste management.
Other applications also include:
- Collecting dust from the tails of comets,
- Acting as a high-performance additive to coating,
- Prevention of corrosion under insulation,
- And used in thermal breaks, imaging devices, light guides, optics, condensation control, sports and outdoor gear, and architectural lighting panels.
Aerographene is light, conductive, flexible, and soluble, making future applications endless.
Image Credit: Rost9 / Shutterstock.com
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