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Synthetic Materials Set New World Record For Greatest Amount of Surface Area96

Posted by Soulskill
from the narrowly-beating-out-your-mamma dept.
Zothecula writes "Researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, have broken a world record in the creation of two synthetic materials, named NU-109 and NU-110, which have the greatest amount of surface areas of any material to date (abstract). To put this into perspective: if one were able to take a crystal of NU-110 the size of a grain of salt, and somehow unfold it, the surface area would cover a desktop. Additionally, the internal surface area of just one gram of the new material would cover one-and-a-half football fields."
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Synthetic Materials Set New World Record For Greatest Amount of Surface Area

• SI units, please (Score:5, Insightful)

on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:22PM (#41308601)
Could we have the equivalent of "a desktop" and "one-and-a-half football fields" in a more scientific unit? I'm not American enough to remember how big a "football field" is.
• Re: (Score:2)

From TFA it seems to be 7,000 m2/g.

• Re:SI units, please (Score:5, Funny)

on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:28PM (#41308637)

How many magic bags of holding is it comparable to?

• Re: (Score:2)

One.

(Trick question. It's always comparable to one.)
• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

Actually it is the inverse of a bag of holding. A bag of holding has a small surface area for a huge internal volume.

• Re: (Score:2)

1.2 baseball fields = 1 football field or if you prefer

one desk = the surface area of a 30pack of Budweiser
• Re: (Score:1)

How many "Sydney Harbours" is that? Which then translates to how many Olympic sized swimming pools?
• Re: (Score:2)

Sorry, this is /.

That surface area is the same as Bill Gates home+garage on Lake Washington. (Really.)

• Re: (Score:2)

1.2 baseball fields = 1 football field or if you prefer

one desk = the surface area of a 30pack of Budweiser

You darn americans with your strange units of measurement...

How many Heinekens does it measure?

• Re: (Score:2)

Heineken?? Fuck that shit! PABST BLUE RIBBON!

• Re: (Score:3)

Heineken?? Fuck that shit!

Taking into account the inner metric diameter of the neck of a Heineken bottle, I regret to inform you that your request cannot be granted due to mechanical incompatibilities.

• Re: (Score:2)

swooooosh...

• Re: (Score:2)

Ah... never seen that movie :)

• Re: (Score:2)

You should be more worried about the outer diameter. Ouch.

• Re: (Score:2)

The guy you quoted is wrong. Unfold a 30 pack beer box and it's a very small desk.; a desk is a little less than two meters wide and a little more than a meter the other way. And a can of Heinie is the same size and shape as a can of Bud; liquid containers here actually use metric measurements, although there's a conversiion printed on the label.

• Re: (Score:2)

1 Heineken is about 0.7 regular beers from the bottles they sell around here...

• Re: (Score:2)

You people have football fields too.

• Re: (Score:2)

we do indeed, but they arent like yours.

they arent of a regulation size either.

which brings us back to: SI units, please

• Re: (Score:2)

That would be 1.46e32 barns.

(Or 0.0146 km squared if you want to be boring...)

• Re: (Score:2)

That's what I get for skimming the abstract. 0.0146km^2/g is the hypothetical maximum surface area they have determined through computational simulations. The actual surface area of the material they have conceived is around 7000 m^2/g.

• Re: (Score:2)

I'm not American enough to remember how big a "football field" is.

about three quarters of an Association pitch.

• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

How small are these objects? Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesnt surface area lose meaning at a small enough scale? E.g. What is the surface area of an atom? Of the electrons and protons and quarks it contains? Isnt this like trying to find the length of an edge on a fractal?

• Re: (Score:2)

The point is to convey scale, and for the vast majority of people, salt, desktop, gram and football field do a better job of that than 1x10-4 m^3, 1 m^2, gram and 5000 m^2.

• Re: (Score:2)

A football pitch is roughly one acre. Which is still not SI, but is one furlong by one chain if that helps.

• Re: (Score:2)

Could we have the equivalent of "a desktop" and "one-and-a-half football fields" in a more scientific unit? I'm not American enough to remember how big a "football field" is.

What does a "football field" have to do with America? Yes an American Football field size isn't the same as the rest of the world Football field... But it is close enough for this article.

• Re: (Score:3)

I'd roughly estimate a football field to be between 0.1 and 0.2 Libraries of Congress.

• Re: (Score:2)

Yes, we need the "libraries of congress" conversion to truly understand these numbers.
• Re: (Score:2)

Well, there's not such thing as a standard desktop, so your guess is as good as mine on that. A US football field, however, is 120 yards long (including the end zones) by 160 feet wide, so it's 57,600 square feet, or 6400 square yards.

• Now we know (Score:2)

where the socks disappear

• And to put this in perspective further... (Score:3)

on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:25PM (#41308619)

What was the previous record? This is a lousy article, since it gives us no reason to think that this is really a breakthrough. From the description it sounds like an aerogel.

• What are the implications? (Score:3, Interesting)

on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:26PM (#41308625)

The article says the synthetic material is porous. Can this material be used as a water filter? If the material forms a cage like structure, can it be used in medicine to trap a virus or bacterium before infection occurs? What can you do with such a material?

• Re: (Score:2)

No good as a water filter - no matter how much you pour in it just vanishes....

• Re: (Score:2)

No good as a water filter - no matter how much you pour in it just vanishes

My god, someone invented Thiotimoline!! [wikipedia.org]

• Re:What are the implications? (Score:4, Informative)

<joham999@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:48PM (#41308765)

Catalysis, gas storage, filtering, scaffolds for molecular construction etc.

Extremely high surface area materials are already extensively used in chemistry for this sort of thing.

• Re: (Score:2)

Drug delivery.

• Re:What are the implications? (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @04:28AM (#41310121)
I thought Mexicans were unquestionable leaders in this field?

(Hey, I have nothing against Mexicans or even light drugs like the weed, really.)
• Re: (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

I am co-author on this paper. Yes, it can potentially be used as a water filter! The pores of these MOFs are too small to trap a virus, but there are other MOFs that could do that potentially.

• Re: (Score:2)

would it be a possible replacement for activated carbon as an adsorbent?

would it be reusable?

• Re: (Score:1)

Absolutely! Today, these MOFs are more expensive than activated carbon, but tomorrow who knows? Also, MOFs can potentially filter out things that activated carbon can't.
• Re: (Score:2)

too SMALL to trap a virus?

• Re: (Score:2)

Yes, too small! The smallest virus that I am aware of has a diameter of 20 nanometers. The pores of MOFs are typically only a few nanometers (which is huge when it comes to trapping gas molecules). However, some day we may be able to design MOFs with much larger pores, which will be really cool for biological applications.
• Re: (Score:2)

Metal Oxide Film?
• Re:What are the implications? (Score:5, Insightful)

on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @12:22AM (#41308985)

Depending on its electrical properties it could be a component of an ultracapacitor.

• Re: (Score:2)

Depending on its electrical properties it could be a component of an ultracapacitor.

...or a very tiny antenna. (similar to the way they are using fractal antennae.)

• Re: (Score:2)

Potentially oil refining. Many processes in the oil industry such as fluidised catalytic cracking rely on a catalyst with really large surface area to control the thermal cracking of hydrocarbons. The question is, for it to be useful in many chemical and process plants, will it survive being heated to 700degC

• Capacitor (Score:5, Interesting)

<walterp@cyberstreet.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @11:41PM (#41308711) Homepage

I wonder how large a capacitor density could e made with this stuff?

• Re: (Score:2)

Ahh hell, that's *exactly* the first thing I was thinking... I remember when aerogel came out...

• It's bigger... (Score:2, Funny)

...on the inside!
• A video about MOFs (Score:3, Informative)

on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @12:15AM (#41308931) Homepage
For those of you who are curious to know more about our MOF research at Northwestern University: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaKSekjAnqY [youtube.com]
• Re: (Score:2)

This is a very illustrative video, worth spending a few minutes on if you are new to this topic like I am.

• Pedantry FTW (Score:2)

which have the greatest amount of surface areas of any material to date

if one were able to take a crystal of NU-110 the size of a grain of salt, and somehow unfold it, the surface area would cover a desktop.

That's nothing, I've got a tablecloth that covers an entire table.

But seriously folks, is this area/volume? Area/mass?

• Re: (Score:1)

The record that is broken is an area/mass value. Specifically, 7100 meters squared per gram of material (NU-110).
• Re: (Score:2)

I'm not sure I'm wrapping my head around this properly. How would this area compare, say, to a hypothetical single layer of graphite?
• Re: (Score:1)

A single layer of graphite (which is called graphene) would have a higher surface area per unit weight than this MOF. However, try making three-dimensional porous structure out of it!
• Re: (Score:2)

However, try making three-dimensional porous structure out of it!

'k. brb.

• Is it sticky? (Score:3)

on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @04:55AM (#41310217)
Does this do the van der Waals force trick that Gecko feet do, or does it need to be more flexible for that?
• Re: (Score:3)

The surface area is mostly holes running through each 'grain' of this stuff, so you can't put it up against another surface to do that trick.

• nearing SA of Gabriel's horn? (Score:1)

i don't think so!
• Yeah!!! (Score:2)

Doing sh*t because we can! Now scientists will spend 100 years trying to figure out what to do with these crystals. Will end up in iPhone50 S.

• Re: (Score:2)

Actually, very high surface area materials already have a lot of important industrial uses. Your at-home water filters, for example, are function entirely on the basis of having a larger surface area to weight ratio. So, materials like these have immediate uses as water filters (and many many other things, such as storing natural gas in cars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaKSekjAnqY [youtube.com]).
• Police Box (Score:1)

by Anonymous Coward

What would happen if I grew a Police Box out of these crystals?

• Paraphrasing Steven Wright... (Score:1)

It's a small grain of NU-110, but I wouldn't want to paint it.

• This may be slightly pedantic, but... (Score:2)

Should they not be talking about the greatest _ratio_ of surface area to volume? The Earth itself, for example, has a pretty great amount of surface area.

• NU-110 + 2l bottle of Coke? (Score:2)

So what happens when you drop a grain of it into a bottle of Coke...

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