Scientists at Kiel University and Hamburg University of Technology have created the world’s lightest* material, a carbon-based network of nanotubes called “Aerographite.” Seventy-five times lighter* than Styrofoam, this material has some very interesting properties. It can be compressed up to 95% and spring back without damage, it handles tension loads better than similar materials, and it conducts electricity. Aerographite’s creators suggest that it could be used in green technology to make conductive plastics or lighter batteries, improving green technology like electric cars and e-bikes. Hardly lightweight applications!
Image: Hamburg University of Technology
* ”Lighter” is kind of a tricky term – it needs another parameter for true comparison. Usually that’s volume (e.g., a cup of air is lighter than a cup of water), leading to a term called density. Most accurate would be to say that Aerographite is 75 times less dense than Styrofoam. For most people, including the linked article's authors, “lighter” just rolls off the tongue so much more… lightly.
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