The University of Technology Sydney announced yesterday that they have created sheets of graphene, specially processed graphite, that is stronger than steel, but has the thickness of paper. The new material has incredible properties, as described on the UTS website:
Using a synthesised method and heat treatment, the UTS research team has produced material with extraordinary bending, rigidity and hardness mechanical properties. Compared to steel, the prepared [graphene paper] is six times lighter, five to six times lower density, two times harder with 10 times higher tensile strength and 13 times higher bending rigidity.
To create this material, researchers filtered milled graphite through a chemical process that reorganized the nano-structure of the graphite. The result, on the atomic level, is a honeycomb of carbon atoms. Graphene has already made quite a splash in the science community, with research on the ultra-strong material winning a Nobel prize last year.
This could have major implications for vehicle designs, specifically aeronautics, which calls for high-strength low-weight materials. Given the materials flexibility, new and radical designs could now be available for all kinds of vehicles. Additionally, the graphene paper is also a recyclable material, making it relatively easy and cheap to produce.