A material with a sponge-like configuration giving it just 5% density has been shown to be 10 times stronger than steel.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) succeeded in translating the strength of 2D carbon graphene into three dimensions by compressing and fusing graphene flakes which formed coral-like structures.
The team reported that the geometric configuration of the three dimensional forms is crucial. This knowledge could lead to other strong and lightweight materials in the future.
The small flakes of graphene were compressed using a combination of heat and pressure, creating enormous surface area in proportion to their volume.
The distinguishing properties of two-dimensional carbon graphene are exceptional strength and conductivity of heat and electricity but at the thickness of a single atom its uses are restricted.
“What we’ve done is to realise the wish of translating these 2-D materials into three-dimensional structures,” said Markus Buehler, head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at MIT.