Scientists have recently created a balloon made of graphene, which is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, making it the world's thinnest balloon.
Image credit: Jonathan Alden. The researchers, from Cornell University, explain that the graphene balloon is impermeable to the tiniest gas molecules, including helium. Acting as a microchamber, the balloon could have applications as pressure, light, and chemical sensors; filters that can produce ultra-pure solutions; and in atomic-level imaging.
For instance, the thin ballons could lead to "aquariums" for DNA molecules, proteins, or other tiny objects that scientists like to investigate. Researchers could put their imaging instruments on the "outside" of the aquarium, with the objects on the inside, and still get very, very close to the objects without touching them.
As Cornell researcher Paul McEuen explained, scientists could also poke a hole through the balloon, and then use it to filter particular objects, while not letting other things pass through.
The scientists say that graphene is the upper limit on how thin a barrier between two distinct phases of matter can be.
The study, “Impermeable Atomic Membranes from Graphene Sheets,” is published in a recent issue of Nano Letters.
via: Live Science