Engineers over at MIT have been hard at work creating one of the strongest and lightest materials in existence. When arranged in the proper molecular configuration, graphene becomes 10 times stronger than steel but only five percent as dense, presenting intriguing implications for building technology.
The breakthrough came when researchers at MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering took a cue from the structures of minuscule coral creatures called diatoms. The organisms have a relatively enormous surface area but remain lightweight. Inspired by the porous configuration, the researchers tested whether arranging graphene in similarly would also make it strong and ultralight. It did.
"It’s a very innovative material because if we can produce the material in big amounts, we can use that to somehow substitute some of the steel used for construction and infrastructure," said researcher Zhao Qin in an interview with Fast.Co. "We could save a lot of labor to construct infrastructure and buildings because it is so light and so strong."