The Strongest Material Known to Man
Michio Kaku is a futurist, popularizer of science, and theoretical physicist, as well as a bestselling author and the host of two radio programs. He is the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein’s search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory. He holds the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics and a joint appointment at City College of New York and the Graduate Center of C.U.N.Y. He is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Kaku launched his Big Think blog, "Dr. Kaku's Universe," in March 2010.
Michio Kaku: Matthew, there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots, microscopic robots, from circulating in the bloodstream and bulking us up, strengthening our bones, giving us the power of Superman. There is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent that. However, the reality is much, much more complicated.
Let’s take a look at nanotechnology today. It’s very primitive. It is a multibillion dollar industry only because we use it for coatings, coatings to make fabric stronger and coatings for different kinds of appliances. We also use it in airbags. Believe it or not there is a tiny sensor, an accelerometer in your airbag—compliments of nanotechnology—that create the gigantic explosion of an airbag.
But that’s today. The promise is that in the coming decades with carbon nanotubes, with graphene, we’ll create even new substances which can replace the silicon of computers, maybe even give us a space elevator. Graphene for example, is a substance made out of one-molecule-thick layer of carbon. Think about that. Think of like Saran Wrap made out of one-molecule-thick carbon atoms. That graphene is so strong in principle you can take an elephant, put the elephant on a pencil, suspend the pencil on graphene and graphene will not break. That is how strong it is. It is the strongest material known to science at the present time. However, having these nanobots in our body—that is decades away. We can’t even create a nanobot that is large that will do most of these things on a microscopic scale. Forget going down to the atomic scale. So to summarize: yes, in principle there is nothing in the laws of physics to prevent nanobots from invigorating us, changing our molecular structure, changing our bone structure and skeleton. However, the practical implementation of that is staggering. It’s not going to happen for many decades to come.
Graphene is in incredibly strong, one-molecule thick layer of carbon atoms that could someday be used to create life-sustaining nanorobots.