A team of researchers at MIT have designed one of the lightest and strongest materials ever using graphene.
They made it by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon.
The new material has just five per cent density and ten times the strength of steel, making it useful for applications where lightweight, strong materials are required.
WHAT MAKES IT SO STRONG?
- The new 3-D graphene material, which is composed of curved surfaces under deformation, reacts to force in a similar way to sheets of paper.
- Paper doesn’t have much strength along its length and width, and can be easily crumpled up.
- But when its folded into certain shapes, for example rolled into a tube, the strength along the length of the tube is much greater and can support more weight.
- In a similar way, the geometric arrangement of the graphene flakes naturally forms a very strong structure.
The key factor that makes this new material strong is its geometrical 3-D form rather than the material itself, suggesting that other similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from a range of other substances by creating similar geometric structures.