posted on Apr, 4 2013 @ 07:26 AM
Zhejiang University News
A research team headed by Professor Gao Chao have developed ultra-light aerogel – it breaks the record of the world’s lightest material with
surprising flexibility and oil-absorption. This progress is published in the “Research Highlights” column in Nature. Aerogel is the lightest
substance recorded by Guinness Book of World Records. It gets its name due to its internal pores filled with air. In 1931, American scientist Kistler
first produced aerogel with silicon dioxide, and nicknamed it “frozen smoke”. In 2011, HRL Laboratory, University of California Irvine, and
California Institute of Technology collaborated in developing nickel aerogel with a density of 0.9 mg/cubic centimeter, the record lightest material
at that time. It couldn’t even cause deformation on dandelion flower fluffs. The picture of nickel aerogel was selected as one of the top ten
pictures of Nature. Deeply impressed by the picture, Prof. Gao Chao asked himself: is it possible to challenge the limit with new material?
First there was aerogel. Developed in 1931, "frozen smoke" held the title for world's lightest material for more than eighty years. And at 96
percent air, its easy to see why. Last year aerographite jumped into the number one spot. At six times lighter than air, one cubic centimeter of the
stuff weighs just 0.2 milligram. Aerographite was heralded with much fanfare when its discovery was first documented, but its reign was to be a short
one. This month, a team of scientists at China's Zhejiang University went after — and broke — the lightness record set by aerographite. Their
discovery is a spongy substance made from freeze-dried carbon. They've dubbed it graphene aerogel, and it weighs in at a tiny 0.16 milligram per
cubic centimeter. That's only twice as dense as hydrogen.
O.k. well this certainly is an interesting read to start the morning. Scientists have created, using a combination of Graphine and Areogel, the worlds
lightest material to date. While that's cool and all, the really cool part is the practical applications that could come from this, as mentioned in
the above articles. Beginning with, but not limited to, the high absorbancy of the lattice. Because of this high absorbancy it could be used to help
contain and clean up oil spills quickly and efficiently while also allowing you to recycle the oil and lattice after the job is complete.
I've had some trouble finding information on this, while a few tech sites have posted something about this in the last couple weeks, most are just
the same article reprinted or rephrased with little to no new information added. The full article explaining the discovery is unfortunately hosted on
"Nature" which kindly charges $199 for a yearly subscription or $8 for the PDF. If it is printed elsewhere I have been unable to find it yet.