World's lightest material is created

July 17, 2012 at 5:27 PM
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HAMBURG, Germany, July 17 (UPI) -- German researchers say they've created the lightest material in the world, a network of porous carbon tubes they've dubbed "Aerographite."

Scientists of Kiel University and Hamburg University of Technology said the tubes, three-dimensionally interwoven at the nano and micro level, create a material that weighs just 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter -- which means ordinary Styrofoam is almost 400 times heavier.

"Our work is causing great discussions in the scientific community. Aerographite weighs [a fourth of the] world-record-holder up to now," co-author Matthias Mecklenburg of the Hamburg university said in a release Tuesday.

Aerographite is jet-black, remains stable and is electrically conductive, ductile and non-transparent, the researchers said.

While most super-lightweight materials can withstand compression but not tension, Aerographite features both an excellent compression and tension load, they said.

Possible uses of the material could be to create very lightweight batteries, to give electrical conductivity to synthetic materials such as plastic, or in electronics for aviation and satellites because they have to endure high amounts of vibration, researchers said.

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