We've been impressed in the past by aerogel, a lattice-like solid that's almost entirely made of air but can support weight and also has tremendous insulating properties. Then last year an ultralight metal caught our eye, weighing in at 99.99 percent air, which leaves 0.01 percent solid.
Now we are excited to meet aerographite, a sponge grown of carbon nanotubes that's the least dense solid ever: a cubic centimeter of it weighs just two ten-thousandths of a gram.
The substance can also be compressed, sponge-style, by a factor of 30, and it springs right back without losing integrity. It's electrically conductive, which means it may be used in new batteries and supercapacitors; it's also highly resistant to chemical attack, hydrophobic, a terrific insulator, opaque to X-rays -- great stuff.
Here's a video of two black morsels of aerographite dancing in static electricity.
Well, if w can make this thing nto a skyscraper, then we could have a super light and super strong city with little waste.
So... let me get this straight... it can conduct electricity, so it can be made into circuits, wires, etc. Yet it is almost invisible to x-rays, so x-ray security devices won't likely detect them. Sounds like a terrorist's dream material.
Great candidate for solar sails because of its light weight, now how to make it into a solar cells without adding much more mass???
Passing thunderstorms could present a problem?
Aerogel.org recently posted a guide on how to make aerographite yourself (note: recipe is still in beta)--supercool stuff! www.aerogel.org/?p=2022
(I had intended to link this comment to TeslaDisciple comment above).
And actually aerographites are not made of carbon nanotubes, although parts of an aerographite network are similar.
From what their saying that this new material is electricially conductive, WOW! I'm thinking on how this may be a break through for conducting static electricity from the atmosphere as an antenna to charge batteries for free energy to power our homes. Wouldn't that be Awesome if it could be done?
"So... let me get this straight... it can conduct electricity, so it can be made into circuits, wires, etc. Yet it is almost invisible to x-rays, so x-ray security devices won't likely detect them. Sounds like a terrorist's dream material."
Clearly you need to refresh your memory as to the definition of 'opaque'.
Aerographite is 6 times lighter than air (0.2 milligram/cubic centimeter versus air at ~1.2 milligrams / cubic centimeter) and yet the video shows it falling to the ground. I understand that the vast majority of its interior is filled with air but nonetheless the average density is some very tiny fraction less than the surrounding air and it should therefore float.
Why does it not?
While the Aerographite is "lighter than air", it still has mass itself, and the way the scientists are calculating the density of the substance is the traditional m/v (Mass divided by Volume). They are including all the interstitial space between the lattice as part of the volume, but are excluding the air that is contained there-in. If you were to calculate the overall density of a 1cm^3 cube of the aerographite at standard temperature and atmospheric pressure in an air environment, you'd find that it was slightly more dense than air (by only .2mg in fact), but still more dense, by about a percentage of about 16%.