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Super-light carbon nanostructure stronger than diamond

Date: 22 April 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Scientists have found a new way to structure carbon at the nanoscale, making a material that's superior to diamond on the strength-to-density ratio.

 

Background

While the tiny carbon lattice has been fabricated and tested in the lab, it's a very long way off practical use. But this new approach could help us build stronger and lighter materials in the future.

 

Details

  • The scientists reported success in conceptualizing and fabricating the material, which consists of closely connected, closed-cell plates instead of the cylindrical trusses common in such structures over the past few decades.

  • The material is made of nanolattices, which are based around a cylindrical framework (they're called beam-nanolattices). But the team has now created plate-nanolattices, structures based around tiny plates.

  • Based on early experiments and calculations, the plate approach promises a 639 percent increase in strength and a 522 percent increase in rigidity over the beam nanolattice approach.

  • Using liquid resin sensitive to ultraviolet light, the process shoots photons at the resin to turn it into a solid polymer in a particular shape. Additional steps are then required to remove excess resin and to heat up the structure to fix it in place.

  • What the scientists have managed to do here actually comes close to the maximum theoretical stiffness and strength of a material of this type – limits known as the Hashin-Shtrikman and Suquet upper bounds.

  • As for how these nanolattices might eventually be used, they'll certainly be of interest to aerospace engineers – their combination of strength and low density makes them ideal for aircraft and spacecraft.