Scientists claim they have developed a new, ultra-light form of "frozen smoke" - renowned as the world's lightest solid material - one ounce of which can carpet three football fields.
Called multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogel, the substance can be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.
AdvertisementAccording to Lei Zhai and colleagues, aerogels made from silicon dioxide are solid but so light that they have been compared to frozen smoke.
However, only a few scientists have succeeded in making aerogels from carbon nanotubes, wisps of carbon so small that almost 50,000 would fit across the width of a human hair.
MCNT aerogels infused with a plastic material are flexible, for instance, like a spring that can be stretched thousands of times.
They also are excellent conductors of electricity, making them ideal for sensing applications, such as sensing as little as 0.003527 ounce of a material resting in the palm of one hand, the report indicates.
The study appears in ACS Nano.