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Australia Science Technology

Graphene Super Paper Is 10x Stronger Than Steel 244

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the is-there-anything-it-can't-do dept.
Elliot Chang writes "The University of Technology in Sydney recently unveiled a new type of graphene nano paper that is ten times stronger than a sheet of steel. Composed of processed and pressed graphite, the material is as thin as a sheet of paper yet incredible durable — this strength and thinness gives it remarkable applications in many industries, and it is completely recyclable to boot."
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Graphene Super Paper Is 10x Stronger Than Steel

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  • by billyea (2029384) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:17AM (#35893304)
    Apparently the pencil is now mightier than the sword.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I always hate "stronger". What does it mean? Tensile strength? Compression? What metric are they claiming "10 times stronger".

      • But that would be proper syense. Don't do syence. makes me brain hurt!

        OR couldn't agree more.
      • by damnfuct (861910)
        Maybe it withstands advanced torture techniques better than steel does.
      • by SharpFang (651121)

        Also, it can be used in temperatures two times lower than paper.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        It has a nasty stink?

      • by zill (1690130)
        From TFA:

        Graphene offers many advantages over steel – it’s two times as hard, six times lighter and ten times higher in tensile strength.

    • Speaking of swords, could this finally make giant anime swords a real possibility? Attempts with less exotic materials have had very limited success. [youtube.com]

      • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @01:01PM (#35896306)

        Attempts with less exotic materials have had very limited success.

        The biggest problem there is, the user has no clue what he's doing. Large swords are never used as swords (swinging/slashing). That's a complete misconception. Large swords are actually used as a pole arm (thus the typical handhold north of the hilt) and frequently used from horseback where the extra reach is desired. Furthermore, should one actually desire to use it standing and not as a pole arm, you would do so in a spinning/slicing fashion rather than a swinging manner - but that would be a move or pure desperation.

        Remember, not all swords are used the same. For example, the classic Roman sword, central to the phalanx [wikipedia.org], was almost never used in a swinging fashion; despite being bladed. It was almost exclusively used in a shielded, stabbing technique.

        In fact, contrary to pop culture, the sword was pretty far down on the list of preferred weapons. Universally, weapons such as spears, pikes, flails, mace, pole arms, axes and hammers of various sizes were, by far, the preferred weapons. Swords, if in fact they were used at all, were considered a weapon of last resort. And in fact, long daggers/short swords where typically preferred over that of what is typically depicted as a sword in pop culture. Which in turn, is precisely what inspired the creation of weapons such as bastard (sword and a half)/long sword, and two handed swords (example, claymore).

    • by hey! (33014)

      When I read the subject of your post, my next thought was "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound..."

  • Rate of degrading? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:22AM (#35893372)
    My understanding is that pure carbon things sublimate into CO2 over time (including diamonds) when exposed to oxygen.

    Just out of curiosity, anyone have an idea about the life of these sorts of materials? I'd think that a very thin, sublimating material with large surface area wouldn't last very long.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not generally. It sublimates at 3915K, the highest of all elements. Additionally, it's very non-reactive in most forms around standard temperature and pressure. Stable carbon forms do *not* oxidize easily.

    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      Would it be impossible to coat it with some kind of varnish? Say, like they already do to avoid metal sheets from oxidizing...

    • I'd guess that since the carbon atoms are strongly bound to each other in rings, that the sublimation process would be strongest where the rings were incomplete; at the edges of the "paper". In other words, it would be the length of the perimeter that matters, not the surface area.

      Also, this may be ten times stronger than steel, but it is still carbon, which makes it ten times more combustible than steel as well.
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      My understanding is that pure carbon things sublimate into CO2 over time.

      {img src="Inigo Montoya.gif"}

    • by adubey (82183) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @11:37AM (#35894676)

      My understanding is that pure carbon things sublimate into CO2 over time (including diamonds) when exposed to oxygen.

      I don't disagree that this might happen, but isn't this usually called oxidation and not sublimation? Sublimation refers to a state change (always C), and oxidation is a chemical reaction (C to CO2). If oxidation happens quickly enough, I heard it is called "burning"...

      (ducks)

      At any rate, you are partially correct in that diamond oxidation depends on sublimation occurring:

      http://acs.omnibooksonline.com/data/papers/2001_6.2.pdf [omnibooksonline.com]

      But you may need to heat it to 350 degrees C for this to happen at a noticeable rate:

      http://www.mdu.edu.tw/Chinese/pdf/mdu01c-2-09.pdf [mdu.edu.tw]

    • In college chem we had to do this same problem. Basically, at any normal temperatures and pressures you could break high level encryption by brute force methods sooner than notice any change in the diamonds weight by conventional methods.
      Graphite is very similar to diamond in this. Technically the reaction is favorable but the kinetics don't work..... then again, I'm an idiot.....
  • by LordStormes (1749242) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:22AM (#35893378) Homepage Journal

    No chance your dog eats your homework now.

    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      Nah, better yet... the dog ate my homework AND I had to take him to the vet because he was not crapping!

    • by hey! (33014)

      Pfft, easy. My *robot dog* ate my homework.

  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:23AM (#35893390)

    Note that this only refers to tensile strength. [xkcd.com]

  • by gblackwo (1087063) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:25AM (#35893420) Homepage
    Here [aip.org] is the stress strain graph.
    • by wiggles (30088)

      For those of us not in the materials field, can you provide a short explanation?

      • by gblackwo (1087063)
        For measuring the strength of materials, the stress strain curve shows the amount of stress as a function of strain. Essentially, it shows how much force per cross sectional area (pressure) the material can handle as it stretches. This isn't quite as simple as it sounds because the cross sectional area decreases as a function of strain too. This is known as Poisson's ratio. Here is the wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
        • by demonbug (309515)

          For measuring the strength of materials, the stress strain curve shows the amount of stress as a function of strain. Essentially, it shows how much force per cross sectional area (pressure) the material can handle as it stretches. This isn't quite as simple as it sounds because the cross sectional area decreases as a function of strain too. This is known as Poisson's ratio.

          Here is the wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

          That part is easy. The part I couldn't understand is what each of the different lines represents. Sorry, didn't find G-ODA(1) vs. G-ODA(2) to be terribly informative (and it has been too long since my engineering classes to recall what the stress-strain curve for steel looks like, so not terribly useful without a directly comparable diagram for at least some form of steel).

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:25AM (#35893422) Homepage

    10x stronger than steel in what aspect? Malleability, ductilibility, toughness, or all the above?

    • It's ten times stronger in the only way that matters: odour production. Why they didn't just say it was ten times as pungent as steel I don't know.
    • by i22y (10479)

      10x stronger by weight, by volume, what?

    • "Graphene offers many advantages over steel â" itâ(TM)s two times as hard, six times lighter and ten times higher in tensile strength." -- Ya, right from the Article.
    • Exactly! This is a common problem with anything from Inhabitat. They repost content without any details backing up claims such as "X is 10 times stronger than Y, this is a huge breakthrough!" Beyond this, the facts they post are often out of context, and occasionally flat out wrong (view most anything they post about space). I do admit that sometimes the articles they link to have the same levels of actual content, but why should we post a blog that's never anything more than a poor repost of another bl
      • by geekoid (135745)

        FTFA:
        "Graphene offers many advantages over steel â" itâ(TM)s two times as hard, six times lighter and ten times higher in tensile strength."

    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      When they're comparing graphene to steel, they always mean tensile strength. Hope this helps.

    • "Harder, better, faster, stronger
      N-n-now that that don't kill me can only make me stronger!"

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      None of those properties are "strength".

      When you compare to steel, it's almost always tensile strength.

  • by starglider29a (719559) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:26AM (#35893432)
    Can it give Superman a paper cut?
    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Yes, but not Chuck Norris.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Bruce Lee is dead and he can STILL kick Chuck Norris's* ass from beyond the grave.

        *What the rule for the possive plural when someones name ends in S?

        • by hal2814 (725639)
          In the style book my wife has to use for teaching in the State of Georgia, the way you posted is correct. However, when my wife and I were kids, we both learned to omit the final s: Norris'
    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      I want to know if a Ginsu knife will cut it and a tomato with the same ease.

      [Gee, I'm old... now get off my lawn!]

  • Aluminium is 3x lighter than steel.

    If this material is 10x lighter than steel we would be able to build among others much lighter aircraft.

    Of course, I hope we don't have to glue the plane together from A4 sized pieces of "paper".

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Before you going making planes out of it, find out how it handles repeated stresses. No need to build more 737s that have moon-roofs.

    • Of course, I hope we don't have to glue the plane together from A4 sized pieces of "paper".

      Well, I hope you never travel in a Boeing 787.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_(fiber) [wikipedia.org]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_fiber_reinforced_plastic#Composite [wikipedia.org]

    • As someone pointed out earlier, it is still carbon. Building a plane out of coal will make for interesting-to-contain fires at disaster sites after crashes.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Stop posting and talking. seriously, just stop. Open up some science books and read.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)

      glue the plane together from A4 sized pieces of "paper"

      Haven't you heard of Origami?

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      There is more to a material than it's tensile strength. Failure modes, amount of plasticity before failure, compressive strength and many other factors are important.

      For example, one of the reasons high strength concrete isn't used very often is that it's failure mode is instantaneous (rather dramatic too) rather than crumbly. As a result there is no warning when it fails whereas regular concrete begins to crumble and drop debris, a very visible and noticeable sign of failure allowing time to evacuate.

      So wh

    • Jet fighters are made of carbon fibre, so swapping one form of carbon for another isn't going to increase any risks. Swapping for a stronger carbon may allow for a lighter frame, though. The drawback is that graphene is a semiconductor and fighters travel at a high enough altitude that there are potential risks of some interesting side-effects.

      Now, Formula 1 cars are also made of plastic-reinforced carbon fibre. It is always a great challenge to the teams to build cars that are as light as possible and yet

  • has no meaning

    spider silk is also stronger than steel. meaning what? give us the actual conditions under which the statement is rendered, and stop pushing the science lite for idiots

  • by JavaBear (9872) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:35AM (#35893564)

    If they could not make it transparent, it would be really revolutionary. Considering it's "just" carbon, it does have that potential...

  • by zrbyte (1666979) on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:37AM (#35893592)
    As somebody working with graphene and having read the paper; IMHO this can be improved even further by improving the micro-structure of the material (less defects). Less defects could prolly be achieved by annealing at a higher temperature (in vacuum or argon). Also irradiation with high energy ions could be useful in improving the interlocking of the graphene layers.
    Of course higher annealing temperature would make the material more expensive.
  • Malleability, Ductility, Tensile strength, Hardness, Abrasion resistance, Brittleness, Thermal conductivity, Thermal coefficient of expansion... they mention some of these, but the list goes on quite a ways.

    It might be nice and light and easy to cover an airplane with, but if the plane hits a pebble on takeoff will it shatter a wing because it's really brittle? If same plane soaks up a bunch of rays sitting on the tarmac in 110F deg heat, does the stuff expand by a factor of 10? Likewise, when it gets to 40

    • by PPH (736903)
      Don't forget electrical conductivity. Get struck by lightning, or have an arc burn a hole in it when a breaker fails and then what happens?
  • Now (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday April 21, 2011 @10:47AM (#35893760)
    All some bright fool needs to do is figure out a way to glue it together like cardboard, and we'll never be able to get our parcels open!
  • still not strong enough for the space elevator tether... so meh
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Good. D not want a space elevator. When it comes down, and everything does, it will be disastrous on a global scale.

  • Finally -- the answer to those tough guys who say that I can't punch my way out of a wet paper bag!

    Who can't punch their way out of a wet paper bag now, tough guy?

  • Perfectly timed, I must say.
  • Obviously if it can be made durable enough it might be a wonderful housing material. A cardboard like wall of this stuff might mean the end of wind storms destroying walls and roofs. It also sounds rather ideal for car and truck skins. And a new trombone made of this stuff might also be very interesting. Trurning a 2.5 lb. musical instrument into a three oz. instrument that resist destruction would be a blessing.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Tensile strength of the material isn't what destroys homes in wind storms. It's the horizontal force applied by the wind which shears the structural material from it's fasteners (in this case the plywood shears the nails). For roofs there are two failure modes, either the roof decking has enough uplift to pull the roofing nails or the entire roof truss is sheared off the wall connections.

      Having a material with ten times the tensile strength of steel isn't going to stop wind from tearing walls and roofs off

  • ...the man of Graphene Paper!

    Hmm... somehow it doesn't have the same ring...

  • by eagl (86459)

    Sounds like it has great physical properties, but what about potential hazards? What happens when it burns or is crushed/shredded? Does it burn violently or excessively hot (or cold)? Is the smoke toxic? In mutilated form, does it release toxic or otherwise hazardous particles? Can you handle it with bare hands, and can you handle a torn edge with bare hands? Can it be disposed of normally? What about resistance to solvents and/or petroleum?

    If the stuff is hazardous, then it's going to have some seve

  • How long until we see bicycle frames manufactured out of graphene? Stronger and lighter than steel? If it has reasonable durability and flex qualities then I'm looking forward to it.

  • Think of all the uses. Paper hardhats. Unbreakable contracts. Toilet paper that doesn't tear, for really serious <censored>'s.

    Awsome! =)

  • 10x stronger than steel sounds great even if it is just tensile strength because tensile strength is what is needed to go to Geosync orbit right? Then with the right solar/laser powered "climber" we have our space elevator right?

    I have no idea how many orders of magnitude improvement are needed but I am happy that at least this stuff is being made in macroscopic quantities. (I mean there's an actual PICTURE of it being held by some forceps! Not like the tiny lengths of nanotubes I've heard about).

    By the

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