MIT Has Developed a New Material That’s the Strongest and Lightest
For years, graphene has been the strongest material known to man. But now there’s 3D graphene.
Scientists at MIT have taken standard graphene, a thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions, and improved upon it.
While standard graphene is thin, strong and the world’s most conductive material, it has one large drawback. It is incredibly difficult to create useful, 3-dimensional materials out of 2-dimensional graphene.
Standard 2D Graphene
The world’s first 2D material has been put to use in energy, sensors, electronics, biomedical and more.
- Ultra-light, yet immensely tough
- 200 times stronger than steel, yet incredibly flexible
- Thinnest material possible and transparent
- World’s most conductive material
- Acts as a perfect barrier – even helium cannot pass through it
The brilliant minds at MIT have figured out how to overcome the 2D drawback to graphene. They simply invented a 3D version of it.
They discovered that taking small flakes of graphene and fusing them in a mesh-like structure not only retains the material’s strength, but the graphene remains porous.
Based on experiments with 3D printed models, they have determined that 3D graphene, with its distinct geometry is actually stronger than standard graphene.
Which means that it’s 10 times stronger than steel, with only 5% of steel’s density.
Check it out!
A Two-Fold Technological Discovery
The incredibly strong, yet lightweight, 3D graphene itself has numerous applications.
But there’s another aspect of this discovery according to MIT, and it extends well beyond graphene.
The 3D design itself is an innovation!
“The new findings show that the crucial aspect of the new 3D forms has more to do with their unusual geometrical configuration than with the material itself, which suggests that similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from a variety of materials by creating similar geometric features.”
MIT scientists envision using the geometry with other materials like polymers or metals. “You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It’s something that has the potential to transfer to many things,” says Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil Environmental Engineering.
Large scale structural projects, such as bridges, can use the geometry to ensure that the structure is strong and sound. And since the material can be much lighter, construction will be easier too.
In addition, they envision using the design in filtration systems because of its porous nature.
The design itself reminds of us a project we covered previous by MIT, “Shape Shifting Design or Futuristic Wire Mesh Grip?”. Could the two concepts be combined somehow?
Let us know your thoughts on these new concepts.
Where do you think they could apply to your future?
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