What is airbrush, the solid material 7 times lighter than air, and harder than steel

Airbrush is a new material derived from graphene, but it is not the same. It is so special that the difficult thing is to find applications for it… And it already has them.

We have been talking about graphene for years, a miraculous material with all kinds of properties: it is fine like an atom but resistant like steel, conductive, transparent, it repairs itself, and many other properties.

Scientists from Zhejiang University in China, led by Professor Chao Gao, invented in 2013 the airbrush or graphene airgel, a variant that stands out for its high porosity and low density. It is the lightest solid in existence, weighing only 160 grams per cubic meter. But at the same time it is stronger than steel.

Airbrush is even 7 times lighter than air, but it does not float because it is very porous, and air is drawn inside. Even so, it can rest on a petal or any other extra-light material, without deforming it:

What is graphene airgel? It is formed by a foam of dry frozen carbon nanotubes with sheets of graphene oxide. The oxygen is then extracted through a chemical process, obtaining a porous material.

One of the advantages of airbrush is that while graphene is two-dimensional, a thin sheet, graphene airgel is three-dimensional, as we can see in the photos.

It retains all the properties of graphene, including its strength, stronger than steel, but still lighter, and can be molded or carved.

It is also very flexible, it absorbs 900 times its weight, it can be compressed, it insulates, it is an electrical and thermal conductor, it is a catalyst, recyclable… A miraculous material, in short.

Airbrush, graphene airgel
graphene airgel

Due to its enormous absorption capacity, it can be used to absorb oil from the sea, during a spill. Also as a material to build balloons and tires. It is being tested to make fiber optic cables, microSD cards, transistors, solar panels, flexible screens

Although its adoption is slow, because it is difficult to manufacture on an industrial scale, graphene and its variants hold their promise to revolutionize the industry in the coming years. Will they get it?

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