Guiness World Records has named a 3D printed graphene aerogel as “the least dense 3D printed structure”. The 3D printed graphene aerogel, developed by a Kansas State University, University at Buffalo and Lanzhou University (China) team, weighs 0.5 milligrams per cubic centimeter. This achievement will be featured in the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS 2018 Edition.
The way the researchers print the three-dimensional graphene is also regarded as revolutionary. The researchers use a modified inkjet printer that uses two nozzles. They 3D print droplets of a graphene oxide and water mixture in a freezer on a cold plate that is minus 20 degrees Celsius. This method creates a 3D ice structure of graphene and frozen water, which helps the graphene to maintain its shape.
When printing is complete, the researchers place the 3D material in a freeze dryer, which removes the ice by providing high vacuum and low temperature. What’s left is a three-dimensional graphene aerogel that maintains its shape at room temperature.
This new printing method is seen as an improvement over existing ones because it uses fewer ingredients and only requires graphene oxide and frozen water. Additionally, the two nozzles on the modified printer enable the researchers to create complex shapes with less material, which makes it the lightest material in the world. “With this 3-D printing method, we can control the shape of the graphene aerogel and ideally, we can control the electric and mechanical properties for the aerogels, too,” the team said.