World about to get lighter and stronger thanks to "buckypaper" and the magic of nanotubing

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florida-state-bucky-paper.jpgBuckypaper is similar in concept to papier mache – layer it up thick and it gets stronger. So strong, in fact, that aeroplanes and rockets and even common household chairs could all be made from buckypaper in some distant future world. We are therefore calling it papier mache 2.0.

The invention of scientists at Florida State University’s High-performance Materials Institute (headed by Ben Wang, pictured), buckypaper is a simple way of compositing sheets of carbon together so they get stronger. Over 500 times stronger than steel and 10 times lighter, is the eventual aim of this futuristic “space paper.”

It is a miracle of science made real thanks to those brave and potentially world-changing little carbon nanotubes, which, despite being 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, are capable of immense acts of strength.

The serious science behind buckypaper and carbon nanotubes is explained properly and in detail over at Wired. I’m only good for covering things in vague and sweeping terms.

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Gary Cutlack