MIT researchers have discovered how to make one of our existing materials stronger than ever before! Recently discovered ‘Graphene’ (isolated from graphite in 2004 by two Manchester University researchers Prof. Andre Geim and Prof. Kostya Novoselov) is a form of two-dimensional carbon that achieves its strength via a honeycomb structure. Using a combination of heat and pressure, a team of MIT researchers (led by Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) were able to compress and fuse its structure into a 3D sponge-like configuration, in effect increasing the strength of graphene to ten times that of steel at a fraction of the weight!
Graphene measures only one atom in thickness and is considered one of the strongest materials in the world. Reconfiguring it into a 3D form (resembling sea coral) has shown it to be even stronger than simply a two-dimensional configuration. Environmental uses for graphene currently relate to solar-panels and batteries. We wait to see what benefits it could bring! In the meantime, learn more from the vid above: