This Ultra-Thin Material Can Stop Bullets by Hardening Like a Diamond

Researchers use the world's strongest material to create a film that can harden like a diamond upon impact.

Diamene
CUNY researchers transformed the honeycombed graphene into the diamond-like material diamene.  Credit: Ella Maru Studio


Researchers from The City University of New York (CUNY) have figured out that if you stack two layers of graphene, the new material it can harden to a diamond-like consistency upon impact. Where is that quality useful? In bullet-proof armor, which tends to be quite heavy, but doesn’t have to be if this graphene-based material is employed.

Graphene, the world’s strongest material, is made up of carbon atoms that are linked together in a honeycomb pattern. It can be produced in one-atom-thick sheets. 

The new material, conceived of by CUNY associate professor Angelo Bongiorno, consists of two sheets of graphene and is called diamene. It’s comparable to foil in lightness and flexibility. But when a sudden mechanical pressure hits it, the material can temporarily become harder than a diamond. 

"Graphite and diamonds are both made entirely of carbon, but the atoms are arranged differently in each material, giving them distinct properties such as hardness, flexibility and electrical conduction," explained Bongiorno. "Our new technique allows us to manipulate graphite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions."

The researchers see applications of the material in wear-resistant protective coatings and ultra-light bullet-proof films. 

Elisa Riedo, professor of physics and the project's lead researcher, says this is the thinnest film that has the “stiffness and hardness of diamond” that’s ever been created.

"Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film,” she added. “But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond."

What’s curious, the effect of hardening only takes place when two sheets of graphene are used. It can’t be any more or less.  

You can read the study here, in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

How tiny bioelectronic implants may someday replace pharmaceutical drugs

Scientists are using bioelectronic medicine to treat inflammatory diseases, an approach that capitalizes on the ancient "hardwiring" of the nervous system.

Left: The vagus nerve, the body's longest cranial nerve. Right: Vagus nerve stimulation implant by SetPoint Medical.

Credit: Adobe Stock / SetPoint Medical
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Bioelectronic medicine is an emerging field that focuses on manipulating the nervous system to treat diseases.
  • Clinical studies show that using electronic devices to stimulate the vagus nerve is effective at treating inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Although it's not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, vagus nerve stimulation may also prove effective at treating other diseases like cancer, diabetes and depression.
Keep reading Show less

Just how cold was the Ice Age? New study finds the temperature

Researchers figure out the average temperatures of the last ice age on Earth.

Icebergs.

Credit: Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • A new study analyzes fossil data to find the average temperatures during the last Ice Age.
  • This period of time, about 20,000 years ago, had the average temperature of about 46 degrees Fahrenheit (7.8 C).
  • The study has implications for understanding climate change.

Keep reading Show less

Best. Science. Fiction. Show. Ever.

"The Expanse" is the best vision I've ever seen of a space-faring future that may be just a few generations away.

Credit: "The Expanse" / Syfy
13-8
  • Want three reasons why that headline is justified? Characters and acting, universe building, and science.
  • For those who don't know, "The Expanse" is a series that's run on SyFy and Amazon Prime set about 200 years in the future in a mostly settled solar system with three waring factions: Earth, Mars, and Belters.
  • No other show I know of manages to use real science so adeptly in the service of its story and its grand universe building.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise changes your brain biology and protects your mental health

Contrary to what some might think, the brain is a very plastic organ.

PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images
Mind & Brain

As with many other physicians, recommending physical activity to patients was just a doctor chore for me – until a few years ago. That was because I myself was not very active.

Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Here's a 10-step plan to save our oceans

By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the sea.

Quantcast