We've heard about plenty of promising electronic applications for miracle material graphene from headphones, to super-fast transistors, to crazy camera sensors, and even solar-powered paint. But now scientists have found a way to leverage its raw strength, by using it to make metal up to 500 times stronger.
By taking a thin film of metal and then "growing" a layer of graphene on top of it using chemical vapor deposition, scientists at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) were able to make multi-layered metal-graphene sandwiches. And when you put a whole bunch on top of each other, these layers can make nickel 180 times stronger, and copper a whopping 500 times stronger than it would be alone. And the best part is that it hardly adds any weight.
Researcher Professor Seung Min Han explained it this way in a press release:
The result is astounding as 0.00004% in weight of graphene increased the strength of the materials by hundreds of times. Improvements based on this success, especially enabling mass production with roll-to-roll process or metal sintering process, in the production of automobile and spacecraft lightweight, ultra-high strength parts may become possible.
Now, as always, it's just a matter of rolling out these processes on a wide scale. Or putting them in the "awesome science discoveries" vault, never to be heard from again. The researchers don't offer much advice about how to pull this off on factory floors, but hopefully someone can figure it out. It's about time we get some adamantium. [Nature via IEEE Spectrum]