If you have spent any amount of time in the world, you know there is a race to find the lightest weight materials to accomplish even the biggest of jobs. Whether it be light weight cars, construction materials, or athletic clothing. It is something that interests many people.
What are the lightest materials in the world?
- Aero graphite
- Aero graphene
- Metallic Micro lattice
- Carbon Aerogel
- Silica Aerogel
- Carbon Nano Tube
- Polymetric Foam
- Metal Foam
When reading this article, take time to think about how “heavy” the lightest object is in our home. You are about to read about some pretty amazing materials that will certainly be showing up in our homes in the future if they aren’t already there. Read on to find out more specific details about each of these materials as well as examples of how they are used in the world today.
What are The Lightest Materials in the World?
There are many light materials in the world, but there is what you might call an upper echelon of lightweight materials that you may not be aware of. These materials have been generated and researched at some of the top universities in the world and are being used for quite remarkable things.
There are 8 materials that you are going to learn more about in this article, and we’ve ranked them from lightest to heaviest.
1. Aero Graphite
Weight: One Cubic Centimeter weighs just 0.2 grams
Aero graphite has been dubbed the lightest weight material in the world, with a density 5,000 times less water and 6 times lighter than air. It has a mesh-like appearance that provides it with immense strength and durability.
It is a highly conductive material and can endure extremely high levels of compression. When this material is compressed, it can return to its original form without damage to the structural composition.
Aero graphite is also able to hold 40,000 times its own weight.
Common Objects Made with Aero graphite
Researchers are hoping to use Aero graphite inside Li-Ion Batteries soon. The lightweight nature of this material will help lessen the weight of electric car batteries.
2. Aero graphene
Weight: 160 g/m3
Aero graphene is one of the least dense solids in the world. It is 7.5 times less dense than air. Although this material is classified as a solid, it can take the shape of any container it is placed in and can, therefore, be manufactured in a variety of sizes.
Because of its low density, Aerographies has the ability to absorb up to 900 times its weight in petroleum. This material is sure to be useful when cleaning up oil spills in the future. The light weight will also make it very useful in the creation of insulation.
This material is was first discovered in 2013 by scientists at Zhejiang University, China.
Common Objects Made with Aero graphene
The use of this ultra-lightweight material is going to be seen most frequently in the realm of space study and travel because of its weight as well as the ability to absorb energy. In the future, we should also see it as a tool to help clean up pollution.
Weight: One square meter weighs about 0.77milligrams
Simply put, graphene is an ultra-thin layer of graphite. If you look at graphene under a microscope, you will see the atoms form a hexagonal pattern. This pattern makes graphene extremely strong as well.
Graphene could be called a super material because of its multiple uses. Not only is it stronger than steel, but it is also highly flexible, transparent, a good conductor, and it is resistant to most liquids and gasses.
To get an idea of how light this material is, imagine a piece of paper. Graphene is 1,000 times lighter than an average sheet of paper.
In the future, it is thought that graphene can be used for things ranging from contacts to condoms because of its lightweight durability.
Common Objects Made with Graphene
Graphene is a commonly found lightweight material. Many pieces of sports equipment use this material as well as smartphones, virtual reality gear, and supercars. The lightweight nature of the material makes it extremely versatile.
4. Metallic Micro lattice
Weight: 0.9 mg/cm3
Metallic Micro lattice is being touted as one of the world’s lightest materials. In 2011, it was developed by a research company working for Boeing. The material is extremely lightweight and has great strength as well.
Researchers determined the material can withstand high degrees of compression and is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
This material is constructed with a series of microscopic hollow tubes.
Although this material could revolutionize air travel, there are still studies being done to ensure its effectiveness as well as the best way to use this material.
Boeing has released a short documentary that is available on YouTube, which explains the creation and use of micro lattice.
Common Objects Made with Micro Lattice
Micro Lattice is such a newly developed material that there are no common objects made with it. However, researchers are optimistic about the possibilities. One area that seems to garner a lot of attention with this material is the automotive industry, related to race cars. The possibilities with this lightweight material in relation to car bodies are endless.
5. Carbon Aerogel
Weight: 0.16 milligrams per cubic centimeter
Carbon Aerogel is commonly used today, even though you may not be aware. It is another extremely lightweight material that is used in fuel cells as well as desalination units. The hope for Carbon Aerogel is that it will be able to combat pollution.
It may be commonly referred to as a carbon sponge because of its ability to hold excess liquid and oils.
Common Objects Made with Carbon Aerogel
The most found objects using carbon aerogel are various forms of insulation, especially those with a large surface area.
6. Silica Aerogel
Weight: 1.9kg/ m3
Silica Aerogel is a material of choice for aerospace travel due to its high density and light weight. It is not a highly conductive material, but its structure allows for heavy weight bearing to occur. It is the ideal thermal insulator because it does not allow air to circulate through it.
NASA has used Silica Aerogel to help capture particles of comets for study. The material was chosen to capture the particles because of its ability to absorb the high energy from the particles moving out from the comet.
Common Objects Made with Silica Aerogel
It is extremely expensive to utilize silica aerogel, so there are limited areas where it may be found. Most commonly, it is going to be used by aerospace engineers. However, it has been found in wetsuits, firefighter suits, and nuclear weapons.
7. Polymetric Foam
Weight: The weight is dependent upon the area being covered as well as it’s chemical make up.
This is one of the most widely used materials when it comes to building. Polymetric foam is lightweight and remains stable upon impact. Because of these properties, polymeric foam can be found in use with medical, auto, electronic, construction, and aerospace projects.
Polymetric foam is created when polymers and gas are combined. This combination provides a lightweight yet strong material.
Many businesses, as well as construction companies, rely on Polymetric Foam to carry out their jobs. Not only is it lightweight, but it also provides lightweight insulation and protects packages being shipped to and from businesses.
Look around your house, and you will likely find many items made with polymetric foam.
Common Objects Made with Polymetric Foam
You may find many objects with polymetric foam. The most common objects composed of this film are; toys, thermal insulation, plastic boats, air filters, cushioning, and building panels.
8. Metal Foam
Weight: The weight of this material is dependent upon the chemical make up as well as area being covered.
When looking at this, you are probably thinking there is a typo. Something is either metal or foam, but it can’t be both. Wrong! Metal foam is just what it sounds like. Structurally it is a foam compound. However, it is made of all metal.
Metal foam is very lightweight and extremely porous; however, it is a strong material that can be very useful in everyday life. Typically, aluminum is used to form the foam, but other metals can also be used.
You can find metal foam in objects that require a sort of impact resistance. Because of the lightweight nature, they can absorb impact quite easily. They are also helpful for absorbing sound. Most commonly, the automotive industry is finding ways to utilize metal foam. Not only does it decrease the weight of the vehicle, but it also decreases the cost to produce the vehicle.
Most recently, scientists have begun to experiment with using metal foam for animal prosthetics. With a material like this readily available, the sky is the limit with what can be accomplished by using it.
Common Objects Made with Metal Foam
Currently, there are several areas where the functionality of this material is being tested. As mentioned above, it is being tested with animal prosthetics and automotive designers are also finding ways it can be useful.
After reading about these impressive lightweight materials, you may be looking at the world around you a bit differently. Research is evolving, as are the materials we are using to complete day to day tasks. Be on the lookout for some of these materials as you look at future cars and building prototypes. I would also not be surprised to see many of these materials showing up on the medical front.