MIT's Porous 3D form of Graphene is Ten times Stronger than Steel

Graphene is super strong light weight material that led to a number of technological innovations in recent years. It contains bonded carbon atoms formed into sheets measuring just one atom in thickness. It finds scope in many applications like desalination of sea water, batteries and even in LED bulbs.

MIT's Porous 3D form of Graphene is Ten times Stronger than Ste

However, there is no practical evidence available that proves the strength of these hexagonal lattices in three-dimensional structure as seen in two-dimensional shapes. In Hexagonal lattices, three points form an equilateral triangle. This strength of these lattices was proved from the latest experiment by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that revealed that graphene is 5 percent as dense as steel and ten times the strength of the steel.

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The team compressed flakes of graphene by applying heat and pressure.  The process produced a strong stable structure whose shape resembles corals and microscopic structures called diatoms. Diatoms are photosynthesising algae, they have a siliceous skeleton (frustule) and are found in almost every aquatic environment including fresh and marine waters, soils Using highly accurate computer model, researchers 3D printed diatomic cubes that represent sponge-like structure and subjected it to compression tests. The shape plays an important role in the experiment. Because of its porous nature, there is more surface area which equates to higher strength at low weights. 

There was a difference in the way different cubes responded. The cubes with thicker walls are less stable when compared to cubes with thinner walls on the application of pressure. Also, the cubes with thinner walls broke down in a controlled manner and regained the shape almost until the end. MIT scientists attribute this ability of thinner walls to deform gradually, while thicker walls store deformation energy that is released all at once. The new findings throw light on the importance of geometric shapes and proves that apart from the type of material the shape also plays an important role in the strength of the material.

The Research Paper was published in the Journal Science Advances.

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