According to a recent story on CBC.ca, a new material has been developed which is the currently renowned for being the lightest material in the world. Known as Aerographite, the material is composed of carbon and weighs roughly one-seventy-fifth that of Styrofoam.
Created by researchers working at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) and Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel, this material is also said to be flexible, stable, water resistant, and a good conductor of electricity. It might sound like no big deal, but ultra-light substances that are composed of basic elements are things which were predicted to accompany the development of nanotechnology.
You see, at the micro level aerographite resembles a network of porous carbon tubes (pictured at right), which calls to mind the concept of the carbon nanotube. Much like the Buckminsterfullerene, this microscopic structure is predicted to be the mainstay of construction someday, just as soon as we can create nanomachines capable of erecting buildings!
And just think of it, diamonds are essentially carbon that has been layered and then super-compressed to become a near-indestructible material. If you have the ability to assemble tiny atomic structures made out of carbon, you can essentially create not only create diamonds, but also objects that are both extremely light and highly resilient. And just so you know, the researchers who produced aerographite have indicated that it can be compressed without damage.
Okay, it’s not exactly a technological revolution, but it is a step in that direction. Yep, soon enough we’ll be able to erect buildings simply by dumping some grey goo on the ground and watching a building sprout up. And unlike our current edifices of concrete, steel and glass, will be composed of different configurations of carbon and other primary elements. They will be stronger, lighter, able to endure indefinitely, maybe even capable of upgrades!