Lei Zhai and colleagues, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA, have fabricated the lightest free-standing monolithic multiwalled carbon nanotube (MCNT) aerogels with a density of 4 mg/cm3. Only a few scientists have succeeded in making aerogels from carbon nanotubes.
The strong chemical bonding interactions between MWCNTs played a key role in the fabrication.
The aerogel has an anisotropic macroporous honeycomb structure with straight and parallel honeycomb channels and mesoporous honeycomb walls. It is a hierachically porous material with a surface area of 580 m2/g. If the nanotubes in a one-ounce cube were unraveled and placed side-to-side and end-to-end, they would carpet three football fields. The MWCNT aerogel has an electrical conductivity of 3.2 × 10−2 S·cm−1 (0.67 S·cm−1 after high-current pulse treatment).
It demonstrates excellent compression recovery property.
The MCNT aerogel could be used in sensors to detect pollutants and toxic substances, chemical reactors, and electronics components.