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March 23rd, 2004
Researchers have created a new form of carbon: a spongy solid that is extremely lightweight and, unusually, attracted to magnets. The foam could one day help treat cancer and enhance brain scans, say the inventors.
The new structure was created when physicists at the Australian National University in Canberra bombarded a carbon target with a laser capable of firing 10,000 pulses a second. As the carbon reached temperatures of around 10,000 ºC, it formed an intersecting web of carbon tubes, each just a few billionths of a metre long. The researchers have called the solid a 'nanofoam'.
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