Breakthrough material is as thin as paper and stronger than steel

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Scientists have developed a new composite material based on graphite, which they claim is as thin as paper and 10 times stronger than steel.

According to Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh, lead researcher at the University of Technology Sydney, the team successfully milled raw graphite by purifying and filtering it with chemicals to reshape and reform it into nanostructured configurations. These were then processed into sheets as thin as paper that, compared to steel, were six times lighter, five to six times lower density, two times harder and with 13 times higher bending rigidity. "These graphene nanosheet stacks consisted of monolayer hexagonal carbon lattices and were placed in perfectly arranged laminar structures to give them exceptional thermal, electrical and mechanical properties," said Ranjbartoreh. "No one else has used a similar production and heat testing method to find and carry out such exceptional mechanical properties for graphene paper. We are definitely well ahead of other research societies." Ranjbartoreh believes the material will offer great benefits to the automotive and aviation industries, allowing for the development of lighter and stronger cars and planes that use less fuel, generate less pollution, are cheaper to run and are ecologically sustainable. "Large aerospace companies such as Boeing have already started to replace metals with carbon fibres and carbon based materials," he said. "With its incomparable mechanical properties, graphene paper would be the next material for them to explore." The researcher maintained that the material could also provide added value for the mining, material processing and manufacturing industries. "No doubt, it will be a favourable option to industry as an economical and world class technological advancement for mass production and industrial application," he concluded.