MIT Researchers Create Super-strong, Lightweight Graphene

Posted: Jan 7 2017, 8:55am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

MIT Researchers Create Super-strong, Lightweight Graphene
Credit: MIT
 

Porous, 3D forms of graphene can be 10 times as strong as steel but much lighter

MIT researchers have created a new form of graphene that is 10 times stronger than steel. However, the material is extremely lightweight, making it more useful for a variety of applications. 

The new material is developed by compressing and fusing flakes of two-dimensional grapheme and then, turning it into three-dimensional form, which was otherwise hard to achieve. 

To create super-strong but lightweight metal, researchers relied on unusual geometrical configuration of the graphene rather than the material itself and this new method could pave the way for more efficient lightweight metals. 

Two- dimensional materials are basically flat sheets with unique properties. But because of their extraordinary thinness, they cannot be used to make heavy structures like vehicles, buildings, or spacecrafts. That’s the reason researchers attempted to convert 2-D materials into three-dimensional structures.

For this purpose, researchers analyzed the material’s behavior down to the smallest level within the structure. Using a combination heat and pressure, researchers compressed the small flakes of graphene and produced a super strong yet lightweight structure.

To test its limit, researchers created several versions of 3D graphene and found that one of the varieties was able to achieve 5 percent density of steel and 10 times of its strength.

In the study, researchers have shown how a mathematical framework can make solid porous materials that are lighter than air. However, these materials are not strong enough for applications under extreme conditions. Nevertheless, the findings can lead to more improved approaches in the future.

“This is an inspiring study on the mechanics of 3-D graphene assembly,” said Huajian Gao, a professor of engineering at Brown University, who was not involved in the study. “The combination of computational modeling with 3-D-printing-based experiments used in this paper is a powerful new approach in engineering research. It is impressive to see the scaling laws initially derived from nanoscale simulations resurface in macroscale experiments under the help of 3-D printing.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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