At this stage, there’s more or less a lock-down on work with heavy materials. All sorts of metals are turned into all sorts of vehicles, each with a solid amount of durability. It would be a real challenge to swing in the opposite direction and work with lighter materials — so naturally, a team of scientists has done exactly that.
The new material in question is a type of “carbon nanofoam”, thanks to the element that largely comprises it and the number of pores in the structure. Developed by the physics department of the University of Hawai’I at Manoa, carbon nanofoam has a density thirty times lower than graphite’s, and was made through high-temperature, high-pressure conditions. The end result is a material that’s not only light, but qualifies to be one of the lightest ever made — if not the lightest of all.
Still, carbon nanofoam is more than just a curio or a source of bragging rights. It may be brand new, but there are already ways for it to be applied; it’s got no toxicity so it won’t hurt the environment, and if it becomes a staple of biomedicine then it won’t hurt humans, either. The ultimate application would be to turn a mass of it into a perfect pillow, but for now there’s more than enough potential to justify its presence.