This amazing graphene aerogel is the lightest 3D printed structure in the world - according to Guinness, anyway.
(3D Printed Graphene Aerogel video)
The record goes to a graphene aerogel developed by Dong Lin, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at Kansas State University; Chi Zhou, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at the University at Buffalo; and Qiangqiang Zhang, associate professor at Lanzhou University. The material, which weighs 0.5 milligrams per centimeter, was developed in February of 2016 and will be featured in the 2018 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
“Graphene is a revolutionary material and it makes sense that its aerogel form would be just as important,” Lin said. “Our 3-D printed graphene aerogel has important properties that give the material many applications for better electronics, batteries or semiconductors.”
Graphene is already naturally a lightweight material, but the researchers use a special process to create the ultra-light aerogel. A modified, dual-nozzle inkjet printer is used to 3D print droplets of a graphene oxide and water mixture on a cold plate in a freezer, with a temperature of negative 20°C. This forms a sort of 3D printed ice/graphene sculpture, which is then placed into a freeze dryer to remove the ice and leaves behind the graphene aerogel in its 3D printed shape.
There are still fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs who recall an ultralight metal called "Harbenite":
Erich von Harben is something of a scientist and explorer himself, and the last time that I saw him he had just returned from a second expedition into the Wiramwazi Mountains, where he told me that he had discovered a lake-dwelling tribe using canoes made of a metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel. He brought some samples of the metal back with him..."
(Read more about Harbenite)