Graphene Aerogel Is The World's New Lightest Material

The world has a new lightest solid material.

Graphene aerogel weighs just 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimetre, making it just twice as dense as hydrogen gas.

Created by researchers at Zhejiang university in Hangzhou, China, a large block of the material can be balanced on top of a flower without coming close to crushing the petals.

It is made of freeze-dried carbon and graphene oxide, based on Nobel prize-winning research by professors at Manchester University, who first came up with graphene when playing with Scotch tape.

Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov found that by pulling at graphite with sticky tape they could remove ever-thinner layers of material and transfer them to silicon. Developments of this research led to the creation of graphene.

Pure graphene itself is a two-dimensional crystal of carbon in a hexagonal pattern. A sheet of graphene is just one atom thick and is very light, with a 1-metre sheet weighing less than a milligram.

It is extremely strong, however, and is often held up as an example of a truly transformative futuristic material which can conduct electricity better than copper, can be stretched up to 20 percent and is almost transparent.

Recently a graphene antenna was proposed which is capable of terabit-per-second internet downloads.

The new graphene aerogel is lighter than the previous record holder - graphite aerogel - which was 0.02mg/cm3 more dense.

Among its possible uses graphene aerogel can apparently mop up 900 times its own weight in oil.

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