Chemists Develop Strongest, Lightest Material

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On September 12, 2002

The world’s strongest, lightest material has been built by researchers in UMR’s chemistry department, the researchers reported in the Sept. 12 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

Called aerogels, the sturdy materials are an amalgam of highly porous glass and plastic that is as light as air. The materials show promise as lightweight body armor for soldiers, shielding for armored vehicles, and stronger building materials, says Dr. Nicholas Leventis, associate professor of chemistry at UMR and chief author of the study, titled "Nanoengineering Strong Silica Gels."

The materials could also be used for better window insulation, longer-lasting tires, and lighter, safer aircraft and space vehicles, Leventis says.

"We took the lightest material available and made it 100 times stronger, giving us the strongest, lightest material known to man," Leventis says. "Our material appears promising for practically any application that requires lightweight, strong materials."

Leventis’ colleagues in this study were Dr. Chariklia Sotiriou-Leventis, an associate professor of chemistry at UMR, and graduate students Guohui Zhang, and Abdel-Monem M. Rawashdeh.

Read the full story online at MIT’s Technology Review magazine:

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On September 12, 2002. Posted in Research