ENVIRONMENT
03/04/2011 09:21 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Frozen Smoke' May Improve Energy Storage & Toxin Detection (VIDEO)

A new form of "frozen smoke" holds the potential to detect pollutants, efficiently store energy, and improve robotic surgeries.

A team of scientists including Professor Lei Zhai and Jianhua Zou engineered their creation by using aerogel. As part the family of the lightest solid, it is commonly referred to as "frozen smoke." Zhai's work, detailed in the journal ACS Nano, used nanotubes to increase the practical use of aerogel.

According to a University of Central Florida (UCF) press release, the new material can detect minute pressure changes, allowing robotic fingers to become super sensitive. With increased sensitivity, the robot hands can distinguish between different surgical tools.

Regarding energy efficiency, nanotubes have a big surface area, and thus this new science can increase the capacity of lithium batteries and supercapacitors to store renewable energy.

Lastly, this new development can improve sensors for detecting explosives and toxins in food and water supplies. It seems the possibilities are endless, as Zhai remarks, "This has many potential applications and could really open up new areas to explore that we haven't even imagined yet."

New advancements in nanotechnology continue, including the release of a new Nano Hummingbird drone. Not everyone is convinced that nanotechnology is safe, but many environmentalists praise its newest innovations.

WATCH the UCF report on this new substance in action: