A team of scientists from MIT have been working on developing one of the strongest lightweight materials ever, which has a density of just five per cent and a strength ten times that of steel.
The findings have been reported in the Sciences Advances journal, revealing that the team were able to compress and fuse flakes of graphene (a 2D form of carbon) to create the sponge-like material. The team say that this discovery indicates that strong lightweight materials could be made from different materials by creating similar geometric features.
The scientists suggest that applications for this material could include filtration systems because the shape of the material features very tiny pore spaces, so could be used in water or chemical processing.
“You could either use the real graphene material or use the geometry we discovered with other materials, like polymers or metals. You can replace the material itself with anything. The geometry is the dominant factor. It’s something that has the potential to transfer to many things,” head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Markus Buehler said.
Back in June last year, another team from MIT also found that nano-sized building blocks of silk could also improve filtration membranes. Apparently, silk nanofibrils can result in new naturally based filters that are less expensive, more effective and greener than other commercial products out there.
This latest discovery could eventually lead to new production methods and supply chain economics for anyone using new filter membranes, including food manufacturers, water treatment facilities and life sciences organisations.