New lighter-than-air material may be Holy Grail for batteries
2012-07-24 0:00

By Lesley Ciarula Taylor |

German scientists have almost accidently created the world’s lightest material.

A cubic centimetre of aerographite weighs just two ten-thousandths of a gram, six times lighter than air and 75 times lighter than Styrofoam.

“You can hold it,” Dr. Rainer Adelung told the Star. “Although it has almost no gravity.”

Adelung and other scientists at the University of Kiel “never planned to make a record,” said Adelung. “Then we saw we could reach it.”

Aerographite is four times lighter than Ni microlattices, the previous lightest material on earth.

Despite its gossamer quality, the material “is actually quite tough,” Adelung said.

Aerographite is a mesh of opaque black carbon tubes that’s flexible, waterproof, conducts electricity and springs back to its original shape after being squashed.

So what is it good for? Batteries, said Adelung. His Institute for Material Science and the Hamburg University of Technology Institute of Polymers and Composites are testing the material as part of super lightweight lithium ion batteries.

“Our first experiments with lithium ion batteries show we have been able to send quite high currents through the material,” said Adelung.

“This is holy grail that everyone is looking for: a microbattery. This looks very promising.”


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"The very small masses of the Aerographite allow quick changes of direction. It raises itself in an erect position, jumps onto the plastic pole and back onto the table: In that way Aerographite gets electric charge from the pole and emits it to the table."

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