To make a camera tough today, engineers give it a magnesium alloy frame. Imagine a camera frame or body made with a material that is as light as plastic but has a strength 10 times that of steel.
This is what a team of MIT researchers has come up with by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, in the process designing one of the strongest lightweight materials known, with only five percent the density of steel but ten times its strength.
In its two-dimensional form, graphene is one of the strongest of all known materials (Carbyne being stronger still). But translating its two-dimensional strength into three-dimensional materials (and thus into useful practical products) has been up to now quite a challenge to scientists.
The breakthrough was achieved when MIT researchers compressed small flakes of graphene using a combination of heat and pressure, producing a strong, stable structure whose form resembles that of some corals and microscopic creatures. These shapes have an enormous surface area in proportion to their volume and prove to be remarkably strong. The new configurations have been made in the lab using a high-resolution, multimaterial 3-D printer using commercial plastics.
The interesting thing is that it is the unusual geometrical 3-D configuration that makes the material so strong, opening up the door to the creation of other similarly strong and lightweight materials made from a variety of materials other than graphene by creating similar geometric features.
The same geometry could even be applied to large-scale structural materials. For example, concrete with this porous geometry would provide comparable strength with a fraction of the weight for building a bridge.
via MIT News