One of the World’s Strongest Materials Looks Like a Chunk of Coral


Hydraulic presses aren’t just for smashing Legos and Barbies and making fake teeth explode. They’re also for real science—although, exploding objects are still part of that, too.

By Samantha Cole | MOTHERBOARD

Engineers at MIT designed a geometrical configuration that can withstand high pressure at five percent the density of steel, with 10 times the strength. They created this confection-like neon pink stuff by compressing small flakes of graphene and 3D printing it into a shape resembling coral, with high surface area and low density.

Two dimensional materials, at only an atom’s thickness—and graphene, in particular—are typically very strong and conductive. But their experiments found that it didn’t matter what the material itself was made from, more that it was formed into this coral-esque shape. Adjusting the thickness of the material gave interesting results: thicker walls burst suddenly under pressure, but thinner walls allowed the pores to crumple gradually, maintaining its shape longer.

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