Zhejiang University

Chinese scientists belonging to Zhejiang University have succeeded in developing the world’s lightest substance – carbon aerogel, which has a density only one sixth of that of the air. The research team was led by Professor Gao Chao and according to him carbon aerogol is similar to carbon sponge in structure. When an aerogel of the size of a mug is put on Setaria, the slender grass will not bend.

Carbon Aerogel

Carbon Aerogel

As per the scientists involved in the research, the density of the corbon aerogol is found to be only 0.16 mg/cubic centimetre, breaking the previous record of the world’s lightest material held by graphite aerogel, which was developed by German scientists last year with a density of 0.18 mg/cubic centimetre.

According to Gao Chao, the leader of the research team:

Aerogel is a material produced with semi-solid gel dried and solvent removed. It appears in a solid state with many internal pores filled with air, and thus it’s of minimal density.

Carbon aerogel is expected to play an important role in pollution control such as oil spill control, water purification and even air purification.

It’s one of the materials with biggest oil absorption capacity. Current oil absorbing products can usually absorb organic solvent of about 10 times of their own weight. The carbon aerogel newly developed can absorb up to 900 times their own weight.


Apart from pollution control, carbon aerogel is also can be used as an ideal material for energy storage insulation, catalytic carrier and sound-absorption.