Aerographite is like Diamond, Only Foamed and Elastic

Dubbed Aerographite after its source material-graphite and the air which makes up for 99,9 percent of its volume, Aerographite is 75 to 400 times lighter than Styrofoam. Joint creation of Kiel University and Hamburg University of Technology, the Aerographite was announced in the Advanced Materials publication this July and presented to the public on July 24 2012. Weighing about 0, 0001 ounce per cubic inch (0, 2 milligrams per cubic centimeter) the Aerographite outperforms Champion, another micro-lattice Nickel material, by about 4 times in weight – Nickel has higher atomic mass than Carbon. Aerographite supports 35 times more weight than Aerogel and can support up to 40,000 times its own weight. It also conducts electricity, thanks to a network of porous carbon nanotubes it consists of. So what is carbon nanotube and what unique properties make them so irreplaceable when it comes to production of super-light and super-strong materials?

Chickenwire Structure of Nanotubes Guarantees Their Elasticity

It also guarantees their enormous relative structural strength. Tubular components of Aerographite are hollow inside and are connected with one another either using atomic connection, or physically hooked up to one another not unlike Velcro hook-and-loop surfaces. Under the microscope the material looks like brushwood piled up in endless pile where pods and branches are nearly impossible to separate.

The Nanotubes of Aerographite are Uniformly Built

There is a difference between the nanotube structure of Aerographite and the way brushwood is piled up: the nanotubes of aerographite are uniformly built using hexagon shaped lattice shaped surface. While the Aerographite was discovered only recently, nanotubes have been around for over ten years. Transistors, nanowires, composite materials, heavy-duty fibers and insulators are only few of many uses nano based materials found recently. Being up to 1000 times thinner than an average human hair, carbon based tubes allow structural efficiency of unprecedented magnitude – every atom has a structural load in this system. Obtaining Aerographite requires lots of heat and the absence of oxygen to prevent carbon from oxidizing. Temperatures around 4000 degrees Fahrenheit force atoms of Carbon into hexagonal unique connections, similar to diamond, only stretchy. Hexagon lattice is bent into nearly perfect tubular structures reminding tree branches from far away. These tubes are so light-weight that they float in the air like cigarette smoke when let loose. It appears that every atom in Aerographite lattice carries certain structural purpose – there is not a single idle member in this structure – every connection is optimized and designed to handle weight. Optical qualities of Aerographite also deserve mentioning because it absorbs light completely, creating blacker black than any other material known to humans.


References: Hamburg University of Technology, NOVA, UTD Nanotech Institute, University of Kiel, University of Texas, Oxford University, Science, Huffington Post, Chemistry Times,