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Researchers use the world's strongest material to create a film that can harden like a diamond upon impact.
31 December, 2017
CUNY researchers transformed the honeycombed graphene into the diamond-like material diamene. Credit: Ella Maru Studio
<p class="p1">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.</p><p class="p1"><strong>Graphene</strong>, 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.<span> </span></p><p class="p3"><span class="s1">The new material, </span><span class="s2">conceived of by CUNY associate professor <strong>Angelo Bongiorno</strong>, </span>consists of two sheets of graphene and is called <strong>diamene. </strong>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.<span> </span></p><blockquote> <p class="p5"><span class="s3">"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," <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-transition-two-layer-graphene-diamond-hard-material.html" target="_blank">explained Bongiorno.</a> "Our new technique allows us to manipulate graphite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions."</span></p> </blockquote><p class="p7"><span class="s4">The researchers see applications of the material in </span><span class="s3">wear-resistant protective coatings and ultra-light bullet-proof films.</span> </p><p class="p9"><span class="s4"><strong>Elisa Riedo</strong>, </span><span class="s3">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.</span></p><blockquote> <p class="p9"><span class="s3">"Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film,” <a href="https://phys.org/news/2017-12-transition-two-layer-graphene-diamond-hard-material.html" target="_blank">she added.</a> “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."</span></p> </blockquote><p class="p12">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.<span> </span> </p><p class="p13">You can read the study <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-017-0023-9" target="_blank">here</a>, in the journal <em>Nature Nanotechnology.</em></p>
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