Zhejiang University in China Produced World’s Lightest Substance Called Carbon Aerogel

May 18, 2013 12:58 IST

Zhejiang UniversityZhejiang University in China in May 2013 announced that the team of scientists produced an ultra-light substance known as carbon aerogel, which has the density of 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeters.

The scientists claimed that this was the lightest material ever produced by anyone.

The carbon aerogel is made of granite as well as the carbon nanotubes which can absorb around 900 times its own body weight.

The lead scientist, Professor Gao Chao explained that carbon aerogel was structure-wise, just like carbon sponge. When the aerogel with the size of a mug was put on Setaria, then even the grass would not bend.

Professor Gao Chao also explained that the carbon aerogel can provide effective solutions to major problems like cleaning oil spills as well as pollution control.
What are Aerogels?

Aerogels are primarily produced by extraction of liquid component of the gel through supercritical drying. This enables liquid to slowly dry off without having an impact on solid matrix. This means that the solid matrix in gel does not collapse from the capillary action, which would take place with conventional evaporation.

First aerogels were manufactured from the silica gels. Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931 produced aerogels based on tin dioxide, chromia and alumina. First carbon aerogels were developed in late 1980s.

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