The graphene “sponge”, stronger than steel and much lighter


Ten times stronger than steel, yet incredibly lightweight: a group of MIT scientists has created a new material with these properties, creating a “mesh”, three-dimensional graphene flakes. Graphene is the thinnest material in the world, consists of only one, regular and stable single layer of carbon atoms: it is conventionally considered two-dimensional. The result is a sort of sponge that resistant to stress, but with a density equal to 5% of that of steel.

The researchers compare the transformation to that of a sheet of paper that is thin and fragile, but folded in a certain way – for example, tube-shaped – it can withstand considerable weights. The graphene flakes were created using heat and pressure, in a structure that is reminiscent of some corals. Because these shapes have a considerable area relative to their volume, they are

also extremely resistant.

APPLICATIONS. Similar geometric configurations could be used to make more “solid” some engineering solutions, such as bridges and other structures that must resist the stresses; but also, given the porous nature of the material, to develop wear-resistant filtering systems.

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