Aerographite: Germans Invent Material Six Times Lighter Than Air

German scientists from Kiel University and the Hamburg University of Technology have created the world’s lightest material, aerographite — a material six times lighter than air and 5,000 times less dense than water. This experiment shows the material Aerographite attracted by a charged polymer rod.

Aerographite is a mesh of carbon tubes that are interwoven at the micro and nano-scale level. The Germans created it by putting zinc oxide crystals in special ovens and then heating them to 900 degrees Celsius. It could be used for computer laptops and protective shielding for satellites as well as waterproofing clothes.

One of the scientists explained “If you wanted to have one kilogram of this material it would be five cubic metres large. That means a one square metre base, which goes five metres up in the air like a house or tower – that would be one kilogram.” Very cool.

Source: Euronews

22 thoughts on “Aerographite: Germans Invent Material Six Times Lighter Than Air

  1. What do you mean by lighter than air? It isnt floating.

    Air weighs 1.2g per cubic metre at 20deg Celsius and at sea level.

    5 cubic meters would weigh 6 grams which is less than 1,000 grams or 1 kilogram.

    Is some of the information in the article wrong?

  2. maybe it doesn’t float because the electical charge keeps it grounded. It is said by the Wikipedia to have similiar properties to vitreous carbon, of which the Wiki also says “Glassy/Vitreous Carbon was under investigation used for components for thermonuclear detonation systems and at least some of the patents surrounding the material were rescinded (in the interests of national security) in the 1960s.”.

  3. The intrinsic density of the aerographite is about a sixth that of air. However, it’s porous (full of holes), and those pores are still filled with air, so it doesn’t displace much air at all and therefore is overall heavier than the air around it. It would indeed be lighter than air if it wasn’t filled with air.

  4. the other mike:

    Styrofoam is lighter than water. If I make an open styrofoam structure and immerse it in water, it still floats. Even if I make a closed styrofoam structure and fill it with water it will float. the weight of water displaced will be greater than the weight of the water. The density of the styrofoam water box/shape will always be slightly less than the density of the water.

    if this material was lighter than air it would float. Either some information is missing or it isnt lighter than air.

  5. It’s not “six times lighter lighter than air,” that is actually a misquote. What was originally said is that ” the material in that 1 cm³ cube is six times lighter than the air in the cube.”

    That isn’t so much a comment on the weight (or to be correct: density) of the solid material, but on how little of it they actually used in that foam.

  6. Bron- The density of air is 1200 g/m3. Also, styrofoam is composed of little bubbles of plastic; the bubbles are filled with air. If you replaced all the air in those bubbles with water, styrofoam would sink to the bottom.

  7. Bron –

    Sorry for my late reply – I’ve been away from the computer. Styrofoam has a closed-cell structure, meaning, as Steve said, that it’s essentially like little bubbles all grouped together. Gels, like this graphite aerogel or other aerogels and xerogels, generally have an open structure and comprise interconnected filaments. It’s as if someone took a big fishing net and wadded it up into a ball. The filaments in the aerographite, unlike in a fishing net, are reasonably rigid, enough that it maintains its shape, whereas the ball of fishing net will sag and compress itself.

  8. Someone mentioned Congress. Ta-dah!

    Here is Alan Grayson’s take on them and why they are stalled, like many of us too. As usual he gets to the core of problems. Enjoy.

    “Here are what I modestly and humbly refer to as “Grayson’s Laws of Legislating”: (1) Vote for what you’re in favor of. (2) Vote for what you can live with, if you must do that to get what you need. What we’ve been seeing in the House of Representatives lately have been massive and pervasive violations of Grayson’s Laws of Legislating.
    Let’s take one very pertinent example: the impeding tax increases on taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year. I don’t know a single Member of the House, Democratic or Republican, who has said on the record that he or she is in favor of raising taxes, starting next Tuesday, on taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year. Let’s suppose that you crafted a one-sentence bill reading as follows: “There shall be no income tax rate increases for the 2013 tax year on taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year.” Let’s suppose that you then administered sodium pentathol to every Member of Congress. Let’s suppose that you then had a vote on that bill. Obviously, it would pass the House by 435 to 0, or something close to that. Followed immediately by unanimous passage by the Senate, and the President’s signature.
    I think it’s fair to say that a majority of the Members of Congress, right or wrong, are against a 27% cut in Medicare payments to doctors, starting next week. I think it’s fair to say that a majority of the Members of Congress, right or wrong, are against an 8% cut in air traffic control on Jan. 1. If you had single votes, up or down, on 90% of the components of the “fiscal cliff,” the outcome would not be in doubt.”
    ==============================End excerpt

    Is this over-simplification of issues. No, I think it is instead an example of loading issues on same dish so that no one can stomach them together.

  9. I was left confused to called my brilliant scientist nephew for an explanation. The material itself is extremely porous. It doesn’t float in air b/c it is actually heavier than air. If you totally crushed the material such that you eliminate all the “pockets”, it would be heavier than air. Why is it lighter than air? They measured its weight in a vacuum. So instead of all the porous bits being filled with air, they were filled with nothing.

  10. To be precise, it means that the SPECIFIC GRAVITY of this material is 1/5 (one fifth!) of that of Air.

    This necessitate this magical material to float and RISE in the air to heights where there are not enough air to push it further up.

    Since the demo shows objects initially resting on a table, not floating in the air, I must conclude the the photographed objects have Specific Gravity (Density) which is not lower than that of the air at that location.

  11. But will it help keep our government from tracking you via the RFID chips in your passports and bank cards…..

  12. The original published work in Advanced Materials about this material measured the macroscopic density of this “aerographite” in the standard way that materials scientists and condensed matter physicists measure the densities of all porous and network materials, so it’s really not terribly duplicitous. The press write-up gave it the attribute “lighter than air” because this is, as are most press write-ups, not very good.

    On the bright side, it may have use in blocking electromagnetic signals from the RFID chips you have in your wallet and implanted in your brain depending upon the electronic structure of the graphite filament walls and the extent of periodicity of the filaments themselves.

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