Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material

Graphene proves its worth again as scientists create a multilayer metal-graphene composite material with incredible strength. According to the researchers, this work represents the first time a metal-graphene multilayer composite material has been successfully produced that exploits graphene's extraordinary strength.

“The result is astounding as 0.00004% in weight of graphene increased the strength of the materials by hundreds of times,” said Professor Seung Min Han in a press release. “Improvements based on this success, especially enabling mass production with roll-to-roll process or metal sintering process, in the production of automobile and spacecraft lightweight, ultra-high strength parts may become possible.”

If the process can be duplicated on an industrial scale, it would indeed be a possible way to make automobiles and aircraft lighter and therefore more fuel efficient.

(Via IEEE Spectrum.)

More details from the abstract of the research paper:

Graphene is a single-atomic-layer material with excellent mechanical properties and has the potential to enhance the strength of composites. Its two-dimensional geometry, high intrinsic strength and modulus can effectively constrain dislocation motion, resulting in the significant strengthening of metals. Here we demonstrate a new material design in the form of a nanolayered composite consisting of alternating layers of metal (copper or nickel) and monolayer graphene that has ultra-high strengths of 1.5 and 4.0 GPa for copper–graphene with 70-nm repeat layer spacing and nickel–graphene with 100-nm repeat layer spacing, respectively. The ultra-high strengths of these metal–graphene nanolayered structures indicate the effectiveness of graphene in blocking dislocation propagation across the metal–graphene interface. Ex situ and in situ transmission electron microscopy compression tests and molecular dynamics simulations confirm a build-up of dislocations at the graphene interface.

(Via Strengthening effect of single-atomic-layer graphene in metal–graphene nanolayered composites.)

Science fiction fans are excited about this because they've been dreaming about superstrong materials for generations. I've been interested in graphene for a long time (see my 2004 story Graphene - Nanofabric One Atom Thick) but this new development is amazing.

Take a look at some of these prior stories, and the science-fictional materials they bring into being:

Some of my other favorite superstrong sfnal materials are durite from Misfit (1939) by Robert Heinlein and sodaluminum from Exiles of the Moon (1931) by Schachner and Zagat.

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