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New carbon nanotube aerogel is now the world's lightest solid material

Christopher Trout, @Mr_Trout
January 16, 2011
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Frozen smoke (read: aerogel) -- not to be confused with the stuff your Grandma uses to flavor her turkey -- is the world's lightest solid material, and it just keeps getting lighter. Researchers at the University of Central Florida have created a new form of the super material, known as multi-walled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) aerogel, that has a density of just four milligrams per cubic centimeter and can be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronic components. Aerogels, which are known as the world's most effective insulators, have been around since the early 20th century, but most of these are fabricated from silicon dioxide. In order to produce the new aerogel, researchers removed the liquid from a "wet gel of well-dispersed pristine MWCNTs," creating a honeycomb structure with walls just 100-nanometers thick. The resulting material is an impressive and resilient electrical conductor that looks and acts less like frozen smoke and more like a burnt marshmallow. And now, you know. Check out the coverage link below for video.

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