MD+DI Online is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Graphene Nanocomposite Is Hundreds of Times Stronger than Metal

An international team of researchers have developed a nanocomposite of graphene and copper that is 500 times stronger than pure metal. A related material, which fuses graphene and nickel, is 180 times stronger. The scientists, most of them hailing from Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST; Daejeon, Korea) created the material by layering the metal with monolayer graphene. To accomplish that, they used chemical vapor deposition to create what is reportedly the first metal-graphene multilayer composite. If the material succeeds in being commercialized, it could enable the production of components with an unprecedented strength-to-weight ratio.

The researchers tested the materials using micro-compression tests with transmission electronic microscopes and molecular dynamics simulation.

As the researchers explain in an abstract:

Graphene is a single-atomic-layer material with excellent mechanical properties and has the potential to enhance the strength of composites. Its two-dimensional geometry, high intrinsic strength and modulus can effectively constrain dislocation motion, resulting in the significant strengthening of metals. Here we demonstrate a new material design in the form of a nanolayered composite consisting of alternating layers of metal (copper or nickel) and monolayer graphene that has ultra-high strengths of 1.5 and 4.0 GPa for copper-graphene with 70-nm repeat layer spacing and nickel-graphene with 100-nm repeat layer spacing, respectively. The ultra-high strengths of these metal-graphene nanolayered structures indicate the effectiveness of graphene in blocking dislocation propagation across the metal-graphene interface. Ex situ and in situ transmission electron microscopy compression tests and molecular dynamics simulations confirm a build-up of dislocations at the graphene interface.

Previous research to create similar composites of graphene and metal have not been as successful as the KAIST's researchers.

With a tensile strength 200 times stronger than steel, graphene is itself the strongest material known to man. So strong, in fact that a sheet of the material as thick as plastic wrap could withstand an elephant standing on it. As Columbia University professor James Hone has explained, such a sheet would not break unless the elephant's weight was concentrated to an area the size of the tip of a pencil.

In a separate research project, Columbia professors James Hone and Jeffrey Kysar showed that crystalline graphene threads could be stitched together to for structures nearly as strong as pure crystalline graphene.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.