It seems that everything is already known about the properties of graphene: it has unique conductivity, thermal conductivity, optical and chemical properties. Now scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have decided to add another dimension to the two-dimensional graphene structure. The material they developed, which resembles a 3D sponge, has only 5% density of steel and at the same time is 10 times stronger than it.
As you know, graphene consists of two flat layers one atom thick, which allows it to be stretched in width almost to infinity. However, in order to turn graphene into a building material, it was necessary to give it a three-dimensional structure.
The MIT team of scientists focused not only on the material itself, but also on its geometric configuration. To do this, they had to analyze the behavior of graphene down to the atomic level. They used the obtained data to create an appropriate mathematical model to simulate mechanical loads - rupture and compression.
Scientists have found that when heated and under certain pressure, graphene flakes form a stable porous structure, reminiscent of corals, with a large surface area in relation to volume. Under a certain influence, two-dimensional graphene can take on various rigid forms (like a sheet of paper) - a cylinder, a corrugation, etc., that can withstand high loads.
Using the results obtained, high-resolution 3D models of various configurations were printed, showing amazing results during the tests. In addition to creating three-dimensional graphene structures, the researchers say the technology is applicable to other materials, from polymers to concrete. New materials will provide not only increased hardness and low weight, but also improved thermal insulation properties.