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Lightest solid material on earth: Graphene aerogel

Introduction of Graphene aerogel:

Now graphene aerogel is officially lightest solid material. Engineering Materials finds out more about this modern day marvel. It has only weighs 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter. It has replaced last year’s aerographite that was created by German scientists and weighed 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimeter.

Graphene aerogel(pic credit: ultrananotec.com )

Graphene has been the focus of intense interest since its discovery in 2004 due to its excellent electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. Graphene aerogel was discovered by scientist Gao Chao and its team at Zhejiang University in China. The sponge-like material weighs just 160g/m3, around 7.5 times less than air, slightly less than helium and it’s just twice the density of hydrogen.

In the past, scientists used the sol-gel method and template-oriented method. The former can synthesise aerogel on a large scale, but has poor controllability, while the latter generated ordered structures.

However, Professor Chao’s team explored a new method for graphene aerogel known as freeze-drying. Here, they basically freeze-dried solutions of carbon nanotubes and combined it with a large amounts of graphene oxide. Residual oxygen was then removed chemically.

About mechanical properties:

Graphene aerogels have a Young’s modulus on order of 50 MPa.

Electrical conductivity: 1-10×10-4 S cm-1

Density: 160 g/m3 

Approximate Dimensions:

1. 850mg-Rectangular Shape:

  • Length: 7.1cm (2.8 inches)
  • Width: 6.6cm (2.6 inches)
  • Height: 1.3cm (0.52 inches)

2. 75mg/100mg-Round Shape: 

  • Diameter: 2.3 cm (0.9 inches)
  • Height: 1.5cm (0.6 inches)

Applications of graphene aerogel: The GAs can be exploited in a whole range of applications such as electrodes for electrochemical power sources and LIBs, as super capacitors, in air purification, in removal of several oils and dyes from water and generally in waste water management. Cold weather clothing will be a use case for graphene aerogel because of its astonishing resistance to heat transfer.

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K Yashdeep

Hye there..! I am Yashdeep Kamal. I completed my Bachelor in Technology(Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering). Engineer by passion, writer by choice. I have been writing about Composites, Ceramics, polymers, nanotechnology, advance materials and metallurgy etc. You can read about these topics here. Hope it may help you.

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