MIT Team Develops Lightweight and Strong 3-D form of Graphene

MIT Team Develops Lightweight and Strong 3-D form of Graphene

Graphene has been termed as a wonderful material for its strength, conductivity and light weight. However, graphene based technologies still needs lot of research and development before they can be used in commercial sector. MIT scientists have successfully fused graphene flakes under high pressure and temperature to develop three-dimensional graphene. Earlier, only one-atom thin graphene sheets could be manufactured in labs and they have limited usability. Additionally, it was difficult to join those very thin sheets of graphene for use in commercial applications.

The 3D graphene based material prepared by MIT material scientists features an amazing strength and it is much lighter compared to other materials. Under heat and pressure during a lab experiment, MIT scientists managed to fuse graphene flakes into a strong material with structural form similar to coral. The research has been published in the journal Science Advances. The research team informed that this technique can also be used on other materials for manufacturing light weight 3D materials. The current MIT Research project can find many applications.

Graphene has been regarded as the toughest material with amazing characteristics and has the potential to bring major changes in electronics industry. Only roadblock research teams face is commercially viable production of graphene.

Currently, graphene is available in two-dimensional form and in that form as well, it presents exceptional strength to weight ratio. MIT researchers added that the same technique can be used to convert other 2D materials to 3D. Graphene presents extremely (usually one atom thin) thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions. However, being extremely thin, these sheets can’t be used effectively to create three dimensional objects. The project undertaken by MIT scientists could change that.

The material created by MIT team is porous and is just 5 percent as dense as steel. The material showcases nearly 10 times higher strength compared to steel. This material can be used in many industries including electronics, aviation, automobiles and modern warfare.

The unique geometrical configuration of the newly created material from fused graphene flakes is what makes the material strong and lightweight. MIT researchers believe that with similar technique, other materials can be formed and they would also showcase amazing strength when they would be with similar geometrical configuration.

Markus Buehler, the head of MIT's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said, "You could either use the real graphene material or use the geometry we discovered with other materials, like polymers or metals. You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It's something that has the potential to transfer to many things."