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May 9th, 2007
In a path-breaking innovation that could have implications in the fields of defence, space research and electronics, a professor along with a student from the University of Pune's Department of Physics has developed an ultra lightweight aerogel material that can support nearly five lakh times its own weight.
The invention could set a world record, as it is stronger than the material prepared by a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in February 2007, which could support 8,000 times its body weight.
Aerogels can be used for lightweight military uniforms for soldiers in combat, bio-chemical sensors, lightweight packaging, the automobile industry and even other applications like soundproof walls or heat resistant walls and windows in homes.
Using principles of nanotechnology, Sulabha Kulkarni and MSc Microbiology student Supriya Pandhe developed a lightweight aerogel using a composite of carbon nano-tubes and silica. "Three pieces of this material weighing 15 milligrams were able to support the weight of over seven kilograms placed over them. We have not yet noted the breaking point of the material, which means it could possibly support more weight," said Kulkarni.
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