Skip to main content

Graphene aerogel takes world’s lightest material crown

 

Not even a year after it claimed the title of the world’s lightest material, aerographite has been knocked off its crown by a new aerogel made from graphene. Created by a research team from China’s Zhejiang University in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering lab headed by Professor Gao Chao, the ultra-light aerogel has a
density lower than that of helium and just twice that of hydrogen.
Although first created in 1931 by American scientist and chemical engineer, Samuel Stephens Kistler,
aerogels have recently become a hotly contested area of scientific research. A “multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel” dubbed “frozen smoke” with a density of 4 mg/cm3 lost its world’s lightest material title in 2011 to a micro-lattice material with a density of 0.9 mg/cm3. Less than a year later, aerographite claimed the crown with its density of 0.18 mg/cm3.
Now a new title-holder has been crowned, with the graphene aerogel created by Gao and his team boasting a density of just 0.16 mg/cm3. To create the record-setting material, Gao and his team turned to the wonder material du jour – graphene. Building on experience in developing macroscopic graphene materials, including one-dimensional graphene fibers and two-dimensional graphene films, the team decided to add another dimension and make a three-dimensional porous material out of graphene in an attempt to claim the record.
Instead of the sol-gel method and template-oriented methods generally used to create aerogels, Gao and his team used a new freeze-drying method that involved freeze-drying solutions of carbon nanotubes and graphene to create a carbon sponge that can be arbitrarily adjusted to any shape.
“With no need for templates, its size only depends on that of the container,” said Prof. Gao. “Bigger container can help produce the aerogel in bigger size, even to thousands of cubic centimeters or larger.”
The result is a material the team claims is very strong and extremely elastic, bouncing back after being compressed. It can also absorb up to 900 times its own weight in oil and do so quickly, with one gram of aerogel able to absorb up to 68.8 grams of organics per second – making it attractive for mopping up oil spills at sea.
“Maybe one day when oil spill occurs, we can scatter them on the sea and absorb the oil quickly,” said Gao. “Due to its elasticity, both the oil absorbed and the aerogel can be recycled.”
The researchers are examining other possible applications and say it also has potential as a phase change energy storage insulation material, catalytic carrier or efficient composite.
The graphene aerogel is detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature.
Source: Zhejiang University via Graphene-Info.com

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LG’s first flexible OLED phone due before the year is out

LG plans to launch a flexible OLED smartphone before the end of the year, the company’s VP of mobile has confirmed, though it’s unclear to what extent the work-in-progress handset will actually flex. The OLED panel in question is the handiwork of LG Display according to VP of LG mobile Yoon Bu-hyun, the WSJ  reports, with the proposed device set to launch sometime in Q4. LG Display’s work on flexible OLEDs has been underway for some time, though the company’s efforts have perhaps been overshadowed somewhat by rival Samsung’s YOUM development. Last year, according to a Korea Times report, LG Display was preparing for

Syrian Electronic Army claims credit for CBS Twitter accounts hack

Yesterday, several of CBS ’s Twitter accounts were hacked, including its main account, and its accounts for 60 Minutes, 48 Hours, and CBS Denver. The hackers got into the account and tweeted a series of things relating to President Obama and the United States being in cahoots with Al-Qaeda . The tweets also had links that led users to malware-infested sites. While CBS was able to regain access to its accounts, it was unable to figure out who was behind the attacks, until now. The Syrian Electronic Army , the same group that hacked 3 of the BBC’s Twitter accounts, claimed

Can Technology Do a Better Job of Finding Bombs?

 With the horrifying images of the Boston Marathon bombing still much too fresh in our minds, and with citywide marathons coming up this weekend in London, Hamburg, and Salt Lake City , law enforcement officers and citizens everywhere are asking how to prevent the tragedy from being repeated. As Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs adjunct professor Abraham Wagner observed last year, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, there’s “no magic bullet o