London: Researchers in Germany have created the world’s lightest material – a breakthrough that could revolutionise battery technology.
Newly developed aerographite is a matrix of hollow carbon tubes, and each cubic centimetre of the complex lattice weighs just 0.2 milligrams.
Though it is 99.99 percent air, it conducts electricity suggesting that it could eventually be used to create a super-lightweight battery.
A team of researchers at the Technical University of Hamburg, and the University of Kiel created the record-breaking material.
“We were looking for three-dimensionally cross-linked carbon structures, and we discovered this material,” Sky News quoted Karl Schulte, the team member, as saying.
The sponge-like material can be compressed to a thousandth of its size and then spring back to its original shape. It can also support more than 40,000 times its own weight.
Aerographite is produced in specialised laboratory conditions using a process called chemical vapour deposition.
In 2002 a substance called aerogel was named as the world’s lightest solid with a density of one milligram per cubic centimetre and NASA used it to collect dust from comets.
That was overtaken last year by metallic microlattice which weighed-in at 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre.
That metallic substance is so lightweight that a block of the material could sit on a dandelion head without squashing it.
The development of aerographite were announced in detail in an academic paper, published in the journal Advanced Materials.
First Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012, 16:34