By compounding two layers of graphene, scientists have developed a new ultra-lightweight material that turns harder than diamond upon impact.
Graphene is flexible but is tougher than most materials despite having the thickness of only a single atom. Aside from being an efficient conductor of electricity, it acts as an extremely secure barrier preventing even the lightest of gases from passing through.
While it has always been known that graphene is derived from graphite, nobody had any knowledge of its extraction process until 2004 when two researchers from the University of Manchester were able to isolate the material for the very first time.
Although the material is described to be 200 times stronger than steel, a single layer is not capable of taking a bullet. Such characteristic is only possessed by its product, the two-atom thick diamene.
New Diamond-Like Material To Revolutionize Protective Wear
A recent statement by the City University of New York narrates the discovery of diamene. Researchers first theorized the development of the material. They used virtual simulations to test possible results when pressure is exerted on two layers of graphene. Various amounts of pressure were used to form the correct calculations.
The team then used a specialized microscope to perform actual experiments. With the device, they were able to apply pressure at specific parts of diamene. These steps led researchers to the conclusion that to form the material, only exactly two layers of graphene are needed. More than or less than two layers will not yield the same diamond-like characteristics.
Researchers have also said that diamene may possess "interesting" electrical properties. With the absence of pressure, the material has features similar to a film. It quickly changes into its diamond-like phase at the moment of impact. During the transition process, the team observed a drop in electric current suggesting diamene could have electrical conducting capabilities.
CUNY points out that the recent findings would become useful in creating protective wear and bullet-proof films that are ultra-lightweight. A report even states that diamene's application has the potential to save lives.
Researchers To Explore And Stabilize Diamene Transition
According to the paper titled Nature Nanotechnology, the diamene study allows future investigations on the material's unique transition. Researchers could come up with an effective method to stabilize such process, which means diamene will exhibit strength not only upon impact but even in situations where applied pressure is absent.
Moreover, a separate study has proposed integrating hydrogen atoms into a layer of graphene to form a magnetic material that could replace silicone. If the experiment yields successful results, a team of physicists Spain and Egypt will be able to create the densest spintronic material existing in the modern scientific world.