Graphene

Graphene’s discoverers were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their find. And it’s no wonder; the material is 200 times stronger than steel, and many times thinner than a human hair. It has the potential to accelerate internet speeds by 100 times, and recharge a lithium-ion battery 10 times as fast as a normal battery.

The new Strongest Material Ever is mostly carbon, the same building block in diamond and buckytubes. The difference with graphene is it lays neatly in a sheet one molecule thick, like ultra-thin plastic wrap.

  • Graphene-treated rubber bands used as inexpensive body motion sensors. They are stretchy, and electrically conductive. If they’re wired up to a power source and then stretched as the result of even a subtle movement, there’s a detectable effect on the current flowing through them.

Engineering ideas

  • Artificial graphene could outperform the real thing – Graphene is truly a 21st-century wonder material, finding use in everything from solar cells to batteries to tiny antennas. Now, however, a group of European research institutes have joined forces to create a graphene knock-off, that could prove to be even more versatile.