Researchers at MIT have designed what could be the strongest material ever known to man. This ‘new’ material is 95 percent less dense than steel and 10 times stronger. It has been designed by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, to create new 3-D structures.
In addition to being exceptionally strong, the material is also incredibly light. This is due, in part, to the extremely thin sheet of carbon atoms from which the material is made, and also to the large surface area of the design, according to the research.
These findings have recently been included in a research paper published in the well-known journal Science Advances. The research team that submitted the paper includes the head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), Markus Buehler.
The research reveals that the crucial aspect of this new material is its unusual geometric configuration, rather than the material itself. This has pointed to the possibility of scientists designing other strong, lightweight materials by creating similar geometric features. Beuhler states the following in this regard:
“You could either use the real graphene material or use the geometry we discovered 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.”
The most important question, perhaps, is whether this material will find practical usage and application in industries. At this stage, experts are optimistic; they think it could open up the door for new hard-wearing materials for everyday use. The material could be widely used in several industries, including construction and architecture. It could also find a place in some filtration systems, for either water or chemical processing. How soon that could be, however, remains to be seen.