World’s Lightest Inkjet-Printed Material Invented

Engineers have broken a Guinness World Record by developing a printed material that is so light it will not bend a leaf.

Guinness World Records has named Graphene Aerogel as being the world’s least dense 3-D printed structure.

According to cemag.us, a square sample of the 3D printed graphene aerogel can hang onto a wheat plant’s individual awn without bending it (see picture), as it only weighs 0.5 milligrams per cubic centimeter.

Graphene is considered to be the world’s thinnest material that is able to contain valuable physical and electronic properties. It is a single atom-thick sheet of hexagonally coordinated carbon atoms. Despite facing technical difficulties to make the three-dimensional graphene, engineers have developed a new printing method requiring only graphene oxide and frozen water.

A modified inkjet printer with two nozzles was used to 3D print graphene aerogel in various shapes with less materials. The researchers 3D printed droplets of a misxture of graphene oxide and water on a cold plate in a freezer at minus 20 degrees Celsius. This created a 3D ice structure of graphene and frozen water, which helped the graphene to maintain its shape.
After printing, the 3D material is placed in a freeze dryer to remove the ice. What’s left is a three-dimensional graphene aerogel that maintains its shape at room temperature.
The 3-D printed graphene aerogel was developed by Dong Lin (Kansas State University assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering), Chi Zhou, (assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at University at Buffalo), and Qiangqiang Zhang (an associate professor at Lanzhou University in China).

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