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Earth Printer Science Technology

MIT Unveils New Material That's Strongest and Lightest On Earth (futurism.com) 149

A team of MIT researchers have created the world's strongest and lightest material known to man using graphene. Futurism reports: Graphene, which was heretofore, the strongest material known to man, is made from an extremely thin sheet of carbon atoms arranged in two dimensions. But there's one drawback: while notable for its thinness and unique electrical properties, it's very difficult to create useful, three-dimensional materials out of graphene. Now, a team of MIT researchers discovered that taking small flakes of graphene and fusing them following a mesh-like structure not only retains the material's strength, but the graphene also remains porous. Based on experiments conducted on 3D printed models, researchers have determined that this new material, with its distinct geometry, is actually stronger than graphene -- making it 10 times stronger than steel, with only five percent of its density. The discovery of a material that is extremely strong but exceptionally lightweight will have numerous applications. As MIT reports: "The new findings show that the crucial aspect of the new 3-D forms has more to do with their unusual geometrical configuration than with the material itself, which suggests that similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from a variety of materials by creating similar geometric features."
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MIT Unveils New Material That's Strongest and Lightest On Earth

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  • Impressive, but (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @09:35PM (#53645569)

    Claiming it can replace steel means it has not only better tensile strength, but also compressive strength, low brittleness, and similar ductility and hardness.

    Glass is stronger than steel, in one direction only. It's not used in structural engineering though. Steel is just so versatile that so far not any material has matched it.

    But, impressive research and I hope they keep going with it.

    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @09:46PM (#53645607) Journal

      I doubt *any* material will completely replace steel. The particular properties of steel, it's strength combined with easy machining and reasonable cost will always be right for some applications, much as brass is still used. Steel didn't completely replace brass, carbon fiber didn't completely replace steel, and this new material won't completely replace any of it's predecessors.

      However, steel allowed us to make things that couldn't be made with brass, carbon fiber works better than steel for some things, and this new material will be the best choice for some things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lgw ( 121541 )

        There are very few application where carbon fiber is better than steel, because it lacks most of the properties of steel. It's not elastic, it's not machinable, it's brittle, it doesn't wear well. There seems to be no replacement for steel used structurally (including this stuff), for tool steel, for anything that needs to flex a bit in normal use, etc.

        • Steel has many conveniences that will likely keep it around for a very long time as a general purpose construction material. But I also suspect that for any specific application it will be radically outperformed by a custom-build structure from micro- and nano-engineered materials such as these. The price of course will be a key differentiator for most applications, and perhaps ease of recycling. So it may be a long time before they become desirable outside of particularly high performance applications.

          • Steel has one other really important quality: It is cheap.
            The world price for bulk mild steel is about 30 cents / kg.

        • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @11:57PM (#53645995) Journal

          > because it lacks most of the properties of steel. It's not elastic, it's not machinable, it's brittle, it doesn't wear well.

          Maching carbon fiber is a bit different from machining carbon steel, just like machining stainless steel is a bit different. It most certainly is machined. Actually in some ways the machining of carbon fiber is very similar to stainless steel.

          Carbon fiber is slightly MORE elastic than steel. The modulus of elasticity is about 150Gpa with steels ranging about 150-180Gpa.

          "Brittleness" (KIc) can't be directly compared since carbon fiber is a composite, but generally cracking is localized - it's not particularly brittle.

          "Doesn't wear well" isn't scientifically confined, so I can't give hard numbers for that. We can note that the two major typesnof fiber tows and the many available resins allow a designer to choose the wear properties appropriate for the application.

          The big advantage steel has over carbon fiber is cost. While the cost of carbon fiber has reduced significantly in the last ten years, it's still $10/pound in quanity. That definitely matters if you need thousands of pounds of it. It's not too significant if you need less than a pound of material for something you're already spending $30+ on.

          • That should say:
            180-200 for steel, 150 for carbon fiber.

            Anyway the elasticity is similar.

          • by fnj ( 64210 )

            it's not particularly brittle

            Spectacularly wrong. Carbon fiber is about as brittle as china. It has very little toughness. The plastic elongation is next to zero. The ability of steel, aluminum, titanium, etc to plastically deform when overstressed, absorbing enormous energy before rupturing, is what makes them so structurally useful. Carbon fiber acts just fine until it ruptures explosively when overstressed. When a tiny crack develops locally in metal, stress gets redistributed around it. You find that cr

            • by Shane_Optima ( 4414539 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2017 @01:11AM (#53646229) Journal

              Spectacularly wrong. Carbon fiber is about as brittle as china. It has very little toughness.

              It's a bit depressing to see this volley continue back and forth with no one mentioning the fact that the "carbon fiber" you're referring to is... plastic. Plastic with carbon fibers added to strengthen it, just like fiberglass refers to plastic with glass fibers added to strengthen it.

              From this, there are two key points to make in this debate that so far haven't been made:

              1. The properties of carbon fiber depend largely on the properties of the material its being added to. There are a wide variety of polymers out there and, in principle, you could probably put it in concrete, or maybe even a cold-forged metal.

              2. The parallels between carbon fiber and whatever this new material is are inconsequential if the new material is something that can be used directly and not as an additive.

              The article is shockingly unhelpful in clarifying this second point, and it even cryptically adds that the geometrical techniques here could be used directly with non-carbon materials, which doesn't make a lot of sense given the unique molecular geometric properties of graphene (clearly show in illustrations in the article) are dependent on the chemical properties of carbon.

              • I looked at some of the linked article, and watched the damn video there, and the takeaway i got from it was that when they fused the flakes of graphene to form this fantastic new non-2D material, they fuse in a rather geometrically unique way.
                Then; being scientists, they wondered if the magical properties this new strong, light graphene material possessed where due entirely to the nature of graphene, or if perhaps this unique geometric shape it had taken was partially responsible.
                Thus; the science wiza
            • That's true, the epoxy resin most commonly used with carbon fiber is quite brittle. I was thinking of some CF I've broken. I'm not sure what the polymer is, but I know vinyl and polyester can be used, along with other polymers. There are two main types of carbon fibers, turbostratic and graphitic, and many types of weaves and layup methods. So there are a lot of combinations with different properties. Some common combinations are quite brittle. If you want a different failure mode, you can have it.

          • I admittedly don't know much about how this applies to carbon fiber or graphene, but it needs to be 'repairable'. You can weld steel, to either repair it or join it to more steel, to the point it is as strong or even stronger than the original (with bracing and whatnot). Anything that would replace steel would need this characteristic.

        • There are very few application where carbon fiber is better than steel, because it lacks most of the properties of steel.

          There are lots of applications where carbon fiber is a superior material to steel. The reverse is also true. Your statement is a tautology. You're saying steel is better because it has the properties of steel. Each material has advantages and drawbacks, both physical and economic.

          It's not elastic, it's not machinable, it's brittle, it doesn't wear well.

          You use carbon fiber in applications where high rigidity and strength to weight is needed. For these applications it is often vastly superior to steel. Saying it isn't machinable is kind of misleading because it presumes that

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Economics is rather central to construction. There's no viable alternative to steel rebar in concrete, especially where pre-stressed.

            Steel remains the best material for car frames, because of the way it deforms and then fails under stress - elastically at low energy, consuming a lot of the energy of a collision at high energy. There are some alternatives for non-structural parts, like body panels, but steel isn't just cheap (plastic can be cheaper, after all), it wears well when kept painted.

            Machine tools

            • Economics is rather central to construction.

              Economics is central to everything. Steel is a very useful and cost effective material for a lot of purposes. It's not the perfect material for every use nor is it necessarily the best for many applications. I cannot imagine steel not being hugely important but let's not pretend it's the perfect material for every use.

              Steel remains the best material for car frames, because of the way it deforms and then fails under stress - elastically at low energy, consuming a lot of the energy of a collision at high energy.

              Aluminum body frames are becoming increasingly common as they are lighter for the same performance. Steel is easier to bend and shape and repair and it is cheaper but in many vehicles wher

      • What is brass used for anymore, other than pure decorative?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Er, are you joking? Bullet casings? How many hundreds of millions of those are made every year???

        • my 3d printer's nozzle is brass. So are some motor/generator brushes. It has its uses.
        • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:58PM (#53645801) Journal

          Brass is considered where you want better corrosion resistance than steel (plumbing fittings), shine (visible hardware, knobs), lighter weight (musical instruments) or a softer material (non-scratching, non-sparking tools), or a bit of self-lubrication (locks and keys).

          I have many hobbies and most end up using brass for something. I do electronics, where brass terminals are used for connections. I do model aircraft, which use brass rods because they are lighter than steel. I do pyrotechnics, where steel is forbidden due to sparks. Very often, if steel isn't a good choice for any reason, brass is a likely alternative.

          Of course that doesn't mean brass is *better* than steel. Often you want the harder metal. Each has their own uses.

          • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

            Also becuse of the copper in it brass has antiseptic properies. Something the victorians discovered by chance which is why hospitals used to have brass door knobs and handles all over the place. Of course these days stainless steel is used along with a boatload of disinfectant. Medicine sometimes regresses unfortunately.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Low friction stuff like bearings and gears, especially with oil-impregnated brass. It has plenty of naval applications still due to corrosion resistance and more esoteric industrial applications because of resistance to chlorine. It is also anti-microbial, which is good for self-sanitizing surfaces while being easier to work with than pure copper.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What is brass used for anymore, other than pure decorative?

          Pasta dies.

          Brass dies are used on pasta extruders because they can handle higher extrusion pressures than plastic dies, which makes for denser dried pasta and they impart a roughness to the surface of the pasta that helps sauce adhere to it better.

          Also, there's this whole family of musical instruments that started out being made of brass, and as far as I'm aware, it's still a common ingredient for them.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Claiming it can replace steel means it has not only better tensile strength, but also compressive strength, low brittleness, and similar ductility and hardness.

      Good point but you are overestimating the journalists who will just pick one of those numbers and also often get things mixed up with strength to weight ration (eg. the ridiculous nylon is stronger than steel statements are due to a strength to weight comparison instead of just strength).
      Also there are a lot of different types of steel with a very wi

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Maybe that's why neither the the scientists nor the article said it would replace steel. All that both said is there are many applications for a lightweight but very strong material.
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Not to mention that it needs to be relatively cheap. Like steel. Academics tend to forget that little detail since they rarely have to pay the bill.
      • Just how stupid are you? Do you actually know anyone doing research? Have you ever been in a research environment, either in the private sector or in academia? I doubt it, because if you had any direct experience you would know that researchers care a hell of a lot about "having to pay the bill."

        In today's competitive environment there are two ways that academic researchers can advance their careers: producing research results that advance the state of the art AND doing research that leads to commercially

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
          Hilarious. You seem to know me quite well for someone who doesn't know me at all. Here's a hint: you are arguing with yourself.
    • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @10:32PM (#53645733) Journal
      According the the article they only have a theoretical model for the material and the claim that it is the strongest material known seems to be based solely 3D printed models agreeing with a computational model of the material. This is no grounds whatsoever to claim that this is the "worlds strongest material". It's a promising start which might lead to that but until you have actually built the material and measured its properties you cannot claim the discovery.

      We did not claim the Higgs discovery in the 1960s based on Higgs' theory we needed to wait until there was experimental evidence showing it was correct. The same applies here: there is no guarantee that some effect they have not modelled is important and means the material does not behave as they expect it to. A macroscopic plastic model is not guaranteed to behave the same due to the larger quantum mechanical effects at smaller scales. In fact so far they do not even know yet whether it is possible to build the material - so lets cut the hype and have them make their claim when they actually have the material in hand and confirmed it really does perform as they predict.
      • I've said it before and I will say it again every time one of these "The MIT gods have revealed to us..." articles pops up: MIT is an academic institution. People have to publish to get degrees. If you want a good grade, you have to make your work sound as impressive as possible. There is no requirement for the work to be backed up with real-world evidence. Therefore, the hype will always exceed the science.
        • MIT is an academic institution. People have to publish to get degrees.

          Academics have to publish papers in scientific journals not press releases with unscientific claims. You don't see this sort of thing coming from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford and yet they are academic institutions which usually rank higher than MIT. If you are truly doing world-leading science you don't need to hype it, just publicize it, because the work speaks for itself. Over hyped claims like this makes you look like you are desperate for attention and undermines the impact of the real resu

          • That's fair. This is PR hype which can get away with murder compared to actual scientific publications. Although, it is a misconception that peer review is 100% effective at weeding out B.S.
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      Claiming "strongest and lightest" means it weighs less than hydrogen (new physics!), and is stronger than carbyne (pick something else if you want). Perhaps they mean strength to weight ratio, which is something else entirely.
    • This is pure carbon which is really NOT something you want to build any kind of structure out of if its likely ever to come near a naked flame or source of heat. It'll have to be impregnated into something else as with carbon fibre which will almost certainly reduce its strength it its even possible.

      • This is pure carbon which is really NOT something you want to build any kind of structure out of if its likely ever to come near a naked flame or source of heat

        When was the last time you lit a diamond on fire? Pure carbon burns at 4890F. For comparison steel melts at around 2750F.

        Don't confuse carbon with carbon based products like coal. Coal is a composite material that has oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur and nitrogen. It's no where close to being pure carbon.

        • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

          Charcoal is almost pure carbon and burns quite nicely as anyone who has ever done a barbeque can testify. Try cooking your burgers with chunks of steel instead and let us know how it goes.

          While you're waiting, look up the difference between ignition temperature and combustion temperature. When you do you'll find the ignition temp of diamond is 900C. Steel hasn't even melted at that point.

          • by La Gris ( 531858 )
            You can set on fire a steel sanding sponge mesh with a lighter or a match.

            The reasons you can not set a block of steel on fire under normal conditions (unless plunged into liquid oxygen), is because of density, ambient oxygen atoms at 1 atmosphere can not reach iron atoms fast enough to sustain enough heat for the reaction to propagate and to exhale enough iron particles. Your steel block will consume anyway slowly burn over years into rust. And while remaining an exothermic reaction, temperature elevation
            • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

              "Your steel block will consume anyway slowly burn over years into rust"

              Thats not burning, its a straighforward chemical reaction. Burning gives off noticable heat, light and fumes. If you class rusting as burning you might as well class almost all chemical reactions involving oxygen as burning.

              • >Thats not burning, its a straighforward chemical reaction.
                So is burning. It's called oxidation. And a great many people do consider all oxidation as burning.

                It's the same chemical reaction either way, and you get pretty much the same energy (heat) released per pound of iron oxidized (maybe some slight differences if the temperature differences fosters different oxides forming).

                The difference between burning and rusting is basically just one of speed. The flame is just a side effect - localized plasma p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Rearden metal?

  • Will it be actually available or so expensive it might as well not exist? Imagine the fuel savings on a drone, jet fighter made of this stuff.
    • It should make a hell of a battery powered flappy bird - if they can scale the wings up to relative to the size of the battery and flapper motor.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I need a 40 000 km roll for a space elevator.
       

  • I was confused when I read this news report. Here is MIT's release: https://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-... [mit.edu] Is the pink stuff actually printed graphene, or is it just plastic printed in the 3d structure of the graphene form so that they could do a macroscopic mechanical test?
  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @09:51PM (#53645627) Journal

    Imagine a net (block?) of this material. IF (and it's a very big if) it could be made large enough IN SPACE, then it could "capture" (by absorbing the impact) space junk. It might need to be hooked up to a low thrust but high efficiency ion drive to compensate for the slow loss of momentum from the impact; it needs to stay in orbit (and to change orbits if it's going after multiple large pieces).

    Of course, as mentioned, the real key is can they manufacture the graphene pieces AND put them together in the 3D structure IN SPACE. Being able to create this material out of a (solid?) block of carbon (graphite) is probably essential. Otherwise the density of the structure might be too low to be launched from earth; the low density which might make it ideal for many applications on earth would be a hindrance if it required a huge fairing for the launch vehicle (imagine a blimp on top of a rocket). However, this low density is critical for its success as a space "sponge", it would allow a small mass to subtend a very large volume; essential if we're ever going to clean up the many many small fragments of space junk (and not just the big ones).

    Of course, IF they can make this in space there are many space construction applications which could be practical. Would it dramatically reduce the cost of an "O'Neil space cylinder" for example? The greatly reduced mass requirements coupled with the (hopefully) greatly reduced launch costs from reusable launchers (go Space-X!) might allow really large structures to be built. (I guess you'd still need "soil" and volatiles from asteroid or lunar mining).

    (A similar solution would be to use in space produced aerogels. The problems of making aerogels in space if they require supercritical carbon dioxide as a working fluid may be too great though.)

    Just an early morning rant here in Vietnam, probably had too much coffee.

    • This material has more potential as a spacecraft structural component. Weight is the #1 concern for anything going to space.

      As far as collecting space junk - I have yet to see a proposal that addresses the real enormity of space. Imagine building a net or block (made of anything) on the surface of the earth. You want to use this net to clean up random trash people dropped. How much progress would you make over, say, Ohio. Or how about the USA. Maybe you just focus on North America. How big does your n

      • On the plus side, the overwhelming majority of space junk is in LEO, because there's just not much reason to put it any higher unless you're specifically targeting geosynchronous orbit. Beyond that you have a single geostationary orbit, and the associated slightly higher "graveyard orbit" that retired satellites are typically boosted to. But that's a huge volume containing relatively few satellites, all traveling with pretty much the same speed and direction, so impacts and the associated debris are going

  • BULLSHIT (Score:5, Informative)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @09:52PM (#53645631)

    The material in question is graphene, which they did not create or unveil.
    The structure in question is theoretical, and they have not made it nor do they have any real plans or methodology to do so.

    They made a mathematical model and then 3D printed a PLASTIC model in the same shape.
    They then crushed the plastic model and noted that it was pretty strong given its density, just as they predict a graphene structure in the same shape to be.

    They're not creating the graphene structure, and a macro version of the structure in plastic may or may not exhibit similar properties as a true version made of ultra thin graphene.

    https://youtu.be/VIcZdc42F0g [youtu.be]

    I'm all for improved materials, but let's not make shit up, futurism.com .

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The structure in question is theoretical, and they have not made it nor do they have any real plans or methodology to do so.

      The article states:
      The team was able to compress small flakes of graphene using a combination of heat and pressure. This process produced a strong, stable structure whose form resembles that of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms. These shapes, which have an enormous surface area in proportion to their volume, proved to be remarkably strong.

      Sounds like a methodology to me.

      They made a mathematical model and then 3D printed a PLASTIC model in the same shape.
      They then crushed the plastic model and noted that it was pretty strong given its density, just as they predict a graphene structure in the same shape to be.
      They're not creating the graphene structure, and a macro version of the structure in plastic may or may not exhibit similar properties as a true version made of ultra thin graphene.

      The 3D printed models did not happen until after they made their new structure of graphene, in an attempt to answer some

    • The MIT link makes it very clear that they actually created this new structure in actual graphene. They did not create much of it, but enough to get its structural properties, then they did the rest of the work in simulation. They go on to say that the new configuration is a stronger 3D configuration for many materials, which is why they were able to do additional large scale work on the *geometry* using plastic. https://news.mit.edu/2017/3-d-... [mit.edu] In short, yes, they actually produced the new structure, and
      • I read the MIT article and watched the video. Please quote where they make the actual structure and test it, then compare to the futurism article and the structure shown in the video. For bonus points, compare and contrast what they actually made to what is commonly referred to as a material, and discuss the properties of materials that make them usable.

        • You are correct. There is a section of the document that reads like they created some, but the original paper makes it clear, this was all in simulation. I withdraw my comment.

          Quoting from the original paper ( http://advances.sciencemag.org... [sciencemag.org] ):

          "To understand this difference, we built full atomic models of the 3D graphene assembly in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations by mimicking the synthesis of the porous material. Large-scale simulations based on a reactive force field (22–24) are performed t

  • But there must be a more creative use for it than attaching price tags to merchandise.

    • I find it ironic that .\'s appeal to usefulness all over the place (see tired, failed dialectical Marxism), but then drool over getting their free/stolen episodes of GoT, FPS's, which are often full of half dressed women.

      What is the utility of these things? Isn't this just hedonism with a varnished facade of ideals?
  • Oversold (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Tuesday January 10, 2017 @09:55PM (#53645639) Journal

    Here's the most relevant bit:

    The team was able to compress small flakes of graphene using a combination of heat and pressure. This process produced a strong, stable structure whose form resembles that of some corals and microscopic creatures called diatoms. These shapes, which have an enormous surface area in proportion to their volume, proved to be remarkably strong. “Once we created these 3-D structures, we wanted to see what’s the limit — what’s the strongest possible material we can produce,” says Qin. To do that, they created a variety of 3-D models and then subjected them to various tests. In computational simulations, which mimic the loading conditions in the tensile and compression tests performed in a tensile loading machine, “one of our samples has 5 percent the density of steel, but 10 times the strength,” Qin says.

    The video is about testing 3D plastic models. Exactly what they have achieved is unclear to me. Do they have plastic in a configuration 10 times the strength of steel? Did they 3D print in steel, but didn't show it in the video? Did they extrapolate from a plastic model to say that if they'd made it of steel it would be 10 times the strength of steel? Did they use a computer model to say that if they could make the optimal graphine configuration it would be 10 times strength of steel?

    • They created a bit of the new graphene structure -- not much, but enough to measure the properties of it. Then they did more testing of it in simulation. But what they discovered along the way is that the new geometry was a useful geometry for a wide range of substances, so they were able to test the geometric structural properties using plastic.
      • Over- oversold, actually:

        They did not create even "a bit" of it. The research is about simulation of the structure, and verification on a scaled up plastic model only.

        The original paper is here - they don't come even close to hint they built the material:
        http://advances.sciencemag.org... [sciencemag.org]

        • I withdraw my comment. You are correct... the whole process was done though simulation.

          Quoting from the original paper ( http://advances.sciencemag.org... [sciencemag.org] ):

          "To understand this difference, we built full atomic models of the 3D graphene assembly in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations by mimicking the synthesis of the porous material. Large-scale simulations based on a reactive force field (22–24) are performed to simulate the process of fusing graphene flakes together into the 3D assembly"

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      The video is about testing 3D plastic models. Exactly what they have achieved is unclear to

      They have achieved a paper with some interesting theoretical stuff on it, which is what the world pays university researchers to do. If somebody wants to achieve something practical with it, that's what we have profit-oriented companies and engineers for.

  • by AJWM ( 19027 )

    But I'm still holding out for scrith.

  • The 2021 America's Cup.
    This years boats are all graphite hulls.
    Something stronger, lighter, cost not a major problem.
    Could be interesting.
  • Say the wrong thing, a look from her binds me to the spot, unable to move, think, or dig myself out of the hole I don't even know I dug myself into.
  • This was just a numerical modeling study, with an added experiment using cheap 3D printing and cheap plastic filament to create a theoretical structure - the structure that could, mayhaps, be one day produced with graphene, if and when they figure out how to shape graphene the same way.

    The submitter is clueless, the Slashdot editors are clueless, and sadly, most posters are clueless as well.

    • by radl33t ( 900691 )
      I hate it when stupid scientists do theoretical work, or these ghastly numerical computations. Oh god, the humanity when a university press department tries to make it accessible to the general population. Those fools! To think such excitement and conversation over such petty research! Those assholes! They've got nothing on me, I'm out here on the internet sharing my bravely sharing my unsolicited and unqualified hyper critical attitude!
  • So it was 10 years ago, so it will be in 10 years time.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      The good news is that its so strong, it can contain a fusion reaction. The bad news is that I think we'll need fusion-levels of cheap energy to make it.

      Fortunately, fusion is 10 years off so we should be able to develop this new material in time to match fusion's development.

  • 1) What specific uses can we expect this substance to be used for?, and

    2) How long will it be before this stuff is commercially available?

    • How long will it be before this stuff is commercially available?

      Like all futuristic things that never materialize, we can expect this material to be commercially available in five years. Just need to hammer out a few details.

  • Often engineers seem to find inspiration in the natural world. Could this be inspired in the bone matrix? Looks like it to me. If it is, it'd be nice and interesting if they were up front about it.
  • Could we make one out of this material?

    • Could we make one out of this material?

      Sigh... Please stop. Yes a space elevator is a cool idea. It will not happen in your lifetime if indeed it ever does. Probably not in the lifetime of your great, great grandchildren either. If we ever do get some material than makes building one actually feasible I assure you that it will make the news because that would be a genuinely big deal. No need to keep asking every time someone comes out with a modestly stronger new material.

      If we do someday build one, Earth is probably not the first place we

      • Sigh... Please stop.

        Stop what? Stop dreaming? Stop striving for a better world? Stop hoping we will find something that will truly advance us as a species?

        • Stop what? Stop dreaming? Stop striving for a better world? Stop hoping we will find something that will truly advance us as a species?

          Stop asking questions with obvious answers. When space elevators become a realistic prospect I assure you we will all know about it. Right now what you are asking is basically the equivalent of asking if some new material would let of build a warp drive. The answer is either "no" or "not anytime soon".

          Believe me, I want a space elevator as much as you do. But be realistic about what it will take to build one.

    • As per Wikipedia:

      Space elevator cable would need a cable material with a specific strength of at least 100,000 kN/(kg/m).

      Modern fibre materials such as kevlar, fibreglass and carbon/graphite fibre have breaking lengths of 100–400 km/m.

      Nanoengineered materials such as carbon nanotubes and, more recently discovered, graphene ribbons (perfect two-dimensional sheets of carbon) are expected to have breaking lengths of 5000–6000 km/m.

      So in short... no. A breakthrough of double the strength of graphen

  • Science magazines and even magazines like Popular Science, have gone over the electrical and mechanical properties of graphene. I don't get what's new.
  • then I will believe.
  • I always think of Plasteel whenever I hear about this.

  • Look at the video in the article... read the first half. It's the shape they made, not some new fancy material, that is of most interest. The shape is basically a solid "spring", but much more complex.

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