Strongest, Lightest Material On Earth Discovered, 10 Times Sturdier Than Steel

First Posted: Jan 11, 2017 03:10 AM EST

Researchers at MIT has developed one of the strongest and lightest materials on Earth. It has a strength of about 10 times that of steel and a density of just about 5 percent.

The findings of the study were published in the journal Science Advances. It was led by Markus Buehler, the head of MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE). Other co-authors are Zhao Qin, a CEE research scientist, Gang Seob Jung, a graduate student, and Min Jeong Meng '16, a recent graduate.

It is known that the strongest material is the graphene in two-dimensional form. On the other hand, the researchers had difficulty translating that two-dimensional strength into the useful three-dimensional material.

In the study, the team found that taking small flakes of graphene and fusing them following a mesh-like structure could retain the material's strength yet will remain porous. They discovered that this new material with its unique geometry is stronger than graphene that is about 10 times more solid than steel yet only have 5 percent density.

MIT reports indicate that the new findings show that the crucial aspect of the new 3-D forms has more to do with their unusual geometrical configuration than with the material itself. This suggests that similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from different materials by developing similar geometric features.

Professor Buehler said that one could either use the real graphene material or use the geometry they discovered with other materials such as polymers or metals. He further said that one can replace the material itself with anything. He added that the geometry is the dominant factor and it is something that has the potential to transfer to many things.

The geometry of the material could be applied to large-scale structural projects like bridges that could guarantee the strength of the structure. Since the material is lighter, it could also be used in construction and filtration systems, according to Science Alert.

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