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John O | August 2017

Researchers 3-D print graphene aerogel, officially lightest material in the world


Researchers at Kansas State University have developed a new process for 3-D printing graphene, an advanced nanomaterial that has enhanced mechanical strength and thermal and electrical conductivity, and the new aerogel has been officially labeled the “least dense 3-D printed structure” in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. 

 


Researchers printed the Kansas State University logo and other designs 
with this new technique. (Kansas State University/YouTube)

 

According to a report on the school’s website, “To 3-D print graphene aerogel, the researchers use a modified inkjet printer that uses two nozzles. They 3-D print droplets of a graphene oxide and water mixture in a freezer on a cold plate that is minus 20° C. This method creates a 3-D ice structure of graphene and frozen water, which helps the graphene to maintain its shape.”

 

Once the printing is finished, the researchers put the 3-D material into a freeze dryer, which removes the ice in a vacuum. The 3-D graphene aerogel remains and maintains its shape at room temperature.

 

The team at Kansas State is the third to use 3-D printing to create graphene, following researchers at MIT and at Rice University, but this process allowed an aerogel to be created that weighs only 0.5 milligrams per cubic centimeter.

 

The research was presented in the journal Small in February 2016. It will now be featured in the 2018 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. 

 

According to the school’s report, “The graphene aerogel has numerous possibilities, from flexible batteries to better semiconductors, and it could even be used to make better insulation in the construction of buildings.” 

 

Watch the video below to learn more about the creation of the world’s lightest 3-D printed material:

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