USES INCLUDE LIGHTWEIGHT, DURABLE COATING FOR CAR PARTS OR CELL PHONES, OR AS A BUILDING MATERIAL FOR BRIDGES AND OTHER STRUCTURES
chemical engineers at MIT have created a new material that is stronger than steel and light as plastic. the material was created using a novel polymerization process and can be easily manufactured in large quantities. uses include lightweight, durable coating for car parts or cell phones, or as a building material for bridges and other structures.
‘we don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things,’ said michael strano, the carbon P. dubbs professor of chemical engineering at MIT and the senior author of the new study. ’it has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that.’
(above) polymer film courtesy of the researchers; christine daniloff, MIT
(main) image by meriç dağlı on unsplash
FOUR AND SIX TIMES STRONGER THAN BULLETPROOF GLASS
unlike other polymers, the new material is two-dimensional and self-assembles into sheets. until now, scientists had believed it was impossible to induce polymers to form 2D sheets.
‘polymers, which include all plastics, consist of chains of building blocks called monomers. these chains grow by adding new molecules onto their ends. once formed, polymers can be shaped into three-dimensional objects, such as water bottles, using injection molding.,’ states the official release. ‘polymer scientists have long hypothesized that if polymers could be induced to grow into a two-dimensional sheet, they should form extremely strong, lightweight materials. however, many decades of work in this field led to the conclusion that it was impossible to create such sheets. one reason for this was that if just one monomer rotates up or down, out of the plane of the growing sheet, the material will begin expanding in three dimensions and the sheet-like structure will be lost.’
the new study shows a new polymerization process that in fact, generates a two-dimensional sheet called polyaramide. the disks stack on top of each other and are held together by hydrogen bods, making the structure very stable and strong.
‘instead of making a spaghetti-like molecule, we can make a sheet-like molecular plane, where we get molecules to hook themselves together in two dimensions,’ strano continued. ‘this mechanism happens spontaneously in solution, and after we synthesize the material, we can easily spin-coat thin films that are extraordinarily strong.’
the researches state that the new material is four and six times stronger than bulletproof glass, and it takes twice the face to break it compared to steel. and it’s density is about one-sixth the density of steel. it is also impermeable to gases, locking together like LEGO’s so that molecules can’t get in-between.
‘this could allow us to create ultrathin coatings that can completely prevent water or gases from getting through,’ strano concluded. ‘this kind of barrier coating could be used to protect metal in cars and other vehicles, or steel structures.’
see also: MIT’s 3D graphene material has the world’s best strength to weight ratio
juliana neira I designboom
feb 06, 2022