Jul 152012

It looks like a wisp of smoke or even the work of a very confused spider, but this is actually a close up of the lightest material that has ever been created.

Previous record holders include aerogel, which was used by NASA to collect dust from a comet and is 99.9 per cent air with a density of just 1 milligram per centimetre cubed. That was recently beaten by the metallic microlattice, which upped the stakes to 0.9 mg/cm³.

Now there is aerographite, which easily smashes the previous record. With a density of less than 0.2 mg/cm³, it is barely there at all. Researchers at the Hamburg University of Technology and the University of Kiel, both in Germany, made it from a network of hollow carbon tubes grown at nano and micro scales. As the electron microscope picture above shows, it is mostly empty space, though if you held a clump in your hand, it would look like a black sponge.

Read more . . .

via New Scientist – Jacob Aron

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