Engineers cook up super-light, super-strong 3-D material

A new graphene material 10 times stronger than steel
but only a 20th its density has been unveiled by Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers.

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Graphene is a 2-D lattice of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern and is the strongest known 2-D material.

But as graphene is just one atom thick, it is far too thin to be useful in, for instance, construction, despite its strength. 

This new discovery by the US team has translated 2-D graphene to a useful 3-D form. They heated and compressed graphene to form a coral-like structure which proved incredibly strong.

Although the researchers weren’t the first to propose a lightweight structure for 3-D graphene, they were the first to produce a mathematical model that very closely matched their experimental observations. 

The crucial aspect of this discovery lies with the actual geometric configuration of the object rather than the material itself.

This means that by forming other materials such as polymers and metals into this geometric configuration, engineers can make them much lighter and stronger.

The work was published in Science Advances.

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