Rubbery carbon aerogels greatly expand applications

Design and hierarchical architecture of synergistic bCAs. a Schematic illustration of the hierarchical synergistic assembly for fabrication of stretchable bCAs through 3D printing (I) followed by freeze-drying (II) and pre-buckled reduction (III). b A digital photograph of ultralight bCAs with density of 5.7 mg cm−3 floating on a flower. c–f SEM images of quaternary structure of bCAs across multi-size scales. g–i Printed lattices by design with negative (−0.3, g), positive (+0.5, h), and nearly zero Poisson ratio (i). Scale bars, 5 mm (b), 500 μm (c), 100 μm (d), and 5 μm (e

Researchers have designed carbon aerogels that can be reversibly stretched to more than three times their original length, displaying elasticity similar to that of a rubber band. By adding reversible stretchability to aerogels’ existing properties (which already include an ultralow density, lightweight, high porosity, and high conductivity), the results may lead to a host of new applications of carbon aerogels.

“We showed the possibility that neat inorganic materials can also possess rubbery elasticity,” coauthor Fan Guo at Zhejiang University told “The rubbery carbon aerogel opens a new material species that combines ultra-lightness, temperature-invariant high elasticity, and robust mechanical performance.”

Due to the growing demand for stretchable electronics, researchers have recently been investigating methods to improve the elasticity of carbon aerogels, which typically are not very elastic.

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