A team of scientists at MIT decided to take great lengths in studying graphene properties in depth. They found out that achieving the 3-D forms with graphene has less to do with the material itself but more on the unusual geometrical configuration.
Graphene is one of the strongest, thinnest material known to man. It is highly conductive and can be 200 times stronger than steel. But its two-dimensional carbon properties make it an impossible material to work with in creating useful three-dimensional objects.
Photo by: Melanie Gonick/MIT
“they are not very useful for making 3-D materials that could be used in vehicles, buildings, or devices,” says Markus Buehler, the head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and the McAfee Professor of Engineering.
“What we’ve done is to realize the wish of translating these 2-D materials into three-dimensional structures.”
The researchers studied the material's behavior down to the layers of individual atoms within the structure. They came up with a mathematical framework that is similar to experimental observations.
MIT Youtube Screenshot
Compressed sheets of graphene produced a strong, stable structure. The scientists tried to test the limit of the material and find out how strong they can get it to become. One of the samples they produced has only 5 percent the density but still has 10 times its strength.
Curved and deformed graphene like how a sheet of paper becomes more solid when crumpled allows the 3-D configuration.
A high-resolution, multi-material 3-D printer translated the graphene material using the same configuration.
The configuration makes the material to be lighter than air. But in such low density, the material can collapse.
However, the researchers highlighted that the important part is that the configuration can be translated to a hybrid graphene or other similar materials to cut the material and manufacturing costs.
“The geometry is the dominant factor. It’s something that has the potential to transfer to many things," Buehler says.
The findings are published in Science Advances.
See: Super Sensor with Graphene-Laced Silly Putty 250X More Pressure-Sensitive!