It is a special form of magnesium carbonate, referred to by the scientists as upsalite. The creators of this wonder substance claim its absorbing capabilities are absolutely stunning and will be in high demand in almost all areas of science, medicine, and technology. The material is expected to eventually become indispensable in electronics, the pharmaceutical industry, as well as on an even larger scale, like soaking up toxic waste in the event of chemical or oil spills.
Johan Goméz de la Torre, a researcher in the university’s nanotechnology and functional materials division, explained that “In contrast to what has been claimed for more than 100 years in scientific literature, we have found that amorphous magnesium carbonate can be made in a very simple, low-temperature process.”
Maria Strømme, professor of nanotechnology and head of the nanotechnology and functional materials division, agrees with him, “After having gone through a number of state of the art materials characterization techniques it became clear that we had indeed synthesized the material that previously had been claimed impossible to make.”
Upsalite is produced by bubbling carbon dioxide through an alcohol-containing suspension. Though the first samples of upsalite were produced in 2011, the scientists spent another year perfecting the process to be finally able to come up with the end product.
Maria Strømme hopes upsalite will become essential in everyday life, “This material is expected to pave the way for new sustainable products in a number of industrial applications.”
Upsalite’s uniqueness is due to its extreme absorptive qualities, as, according to the study, it has the highest surface area ever measured for an alkali earth metal carbonate, 800 square meters per gram, and in addition to that, it’s made of empty pores less than 10 nanometers in diameter.