If Superman had been created in 2017 instead of 1933, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster would have probably nicknamed him “The Man of 3D Graphene” rather than “The Man of Steel.”
That’s because, despite being a mouthful, 3D graphene — which a team of MIT researchers just developed — has a density of just 5% of steel, but is 10 times stronger.
The sponge-like structure is the first three-dimensional form of graphene that’s ever been created and, in addition to being extremely lightweight and strong, is very porous, to which it owes its strength. Interestingly, the lattice-like structure of the printed sample have more to do with its strength than the material itself, as is demonstrated in the video above.
For now, the new form of graphene can only be created using complex computer models and advanced 3D printing, so don’t plan on any weekend science experiments just yet. However, as Brown University engineering professor Huajian Gao puts it, the work “shows a promising direction of bringing the strength of 2D materials and the power of material architecture design together.”
In other words, 3D graphene has real potential to make it out of MIT’s labs and into the real world — or the funny pages.
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