Researchers at the University of Technology Sydney have made an incredible breakthrough in their work with graphene: they've managed to develop a material that's as thin as a sheet of paper and ten times stronger than steel.
You may have heard of graphene, a graphite-based material, when two scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics last year for isolating it using nothing but a pencil and adhesive tape.
The new graphene paper sheets developed by the UTS researchers is six times lighter, has five to six times lower density, and has a 13 times higher bending rigidity than traditional steel.
"That’s no incremental improvement on the qualities of steel, but a huge leap forward in terms of overall material strength (plus, like paper, it is flexible)," said Lead researcher Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh. "And because it is graphene, it is also imbued with some interesting electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties."
Ranjbartoreh went on to say that the best part of the graphene paper is not its strength or lightness, but it's cost. "Graphene paper [is] not outrageously difficult or expensive to manufacture, and as such it could have huge implications for the aviation and automotive industries, where manufacturers have already been turning to composites and carbon fiber materials to cut weight and thus increase fuel economies."