Carbon aerogel world’s lightest material

Chinese scientists have developed the world’s lightest substance — carbon aerogel — with a density only one sixth of that of the air.

Scientists at Zhejiang University produced the solid material which has a density of only 0.16 mg/cubic centimetre, breaking the previous record of the world’s lightest material held by graphite aerogel.

The graphite aerogel was developed by German scientists last year with a density of 0.18 mg/cubic centimetre.

Aerogel is a material produced with semi-solid gel dried and solvent removed. It appears in a solid state with many internal pores filled with air, and thus it’s of minimal density.

The research team led by Professor Gao Chao freeze-dried solutions of carbon nanotubes and graphene to remove moisture and retain integrity.

Despite its fragile appearance, carbon aerogel is excellent in elasticity. It can bounce back when compressed.