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Video: Scientists break world record with 3-D printed graphene aerogel

graphene aerogel

[Image above] Credit: Kansas State University; YouTube

Researchers are always breaking their own records—when one group of scientists develops a new product or process, there’s always another group that will come along and improve upon it.

Take cell phone technology, for example. We’ve gone from here to here.

That’s the whole idea and purpose of research—to build on previous technology in order to make a better product or process and, hence, improve society.

If it weren’t for scientists breaking records, we might still be riding horses or watching black and white TV. Or worse—using rotary phones!

And sometimes scientists and engineers even end up breaking world records.

Dong Lin, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at Kansas State University, and his research team from the University at Buffalo and Lanzhou University in China recently created a world record-breaking graphene aerogel structure. Using a mixture of graphene oxide and water that they froze to –20ºC, the scientists spun the material out of two nozzles on a 3-D printer.

In its frozen state, the structure looks like an ice carving. After the scientists placed it in a freeze dryer, which removes the ice, they ended up with a 3-D graphene aerogel sculpture that holds its form at room temperature.

And it turns out that the resulting graphene aerogel is also the lightest material to come out of a 3-D printer, according to a news release on the KSU website.

Guinness World Records seems to think so too. They reached out to Lin and his group after reading their paper, published in Small last year. After learning more about the 3-D process, Guinness documented the team’s achievement and presented a certificate to Lin and his team. Guinness plans to feature the accomplishment in its 2018 edition of the book.

Credit: Kansas State University

“Graphene is a revolutionary material and it makes sense that its aerogel form would be just as important,” Lin says in the release. “Our 3-D printed graphene aerogel has important properties that give the material many applications for better electronics, batteries, or semiconductors.”

This isn’t the first time graphene has been 3-D printed. Last month I reported on a new method of making graphene foam using a sintering process with a 3-D laser printer, powdered sugar, and nickel powder.

Perhaps current Guinness record holder Gao Chao at Zhejiang University in China has been basking in his world record for the least dense solid graphene aerogel. Now he will have to come up with something better to surpass Lin’s new graphene aerogel—now the lightest 3-D printed material in the world.

Let the record-breaking continue…

Watch this video to learn how Lin and his team created a KSU mascot out of graphene aerogel.

Credit: K-State; YouTube