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Graphene provides extraordinarily stiff beams for nanotechnology

Characterization of graphene continues to reveal unusual properties that recommend it as a material for nanotech applications. Add to graphene’s record-breaking strength the discovery that graphene beams are unexpectedly stiff. From nanotechweb.org, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration) “Graphene flakes stiffen up“:

Researchers have succeeded in making large sheets of graphene that measure up to 0.1 mm across and have found that the material is extraordinarily rigid, being able to support a thousand times its own weight. This means that the material could be incorporated into different technologies, such as micromechanical systems, and is ideal for use in electron microscopy.

Until recently, scientists thought that graphene — a one-atom thick material — was weak and flexible and would spontaneously roll or fold up into nanotube-like structures. Tim Booth and Peter Blake of Manchester University in the UK and colleagues have now shown that suspended graphene sheets can easily support their own weight and the weight of objects attached to them, without bending.

“Seeing the graphene sticking out without any support surprised us all,” Booth told nanotechweb.org, “even more so that it could support a thousand times its own weight in copper nanoparticles.”

From the abstract in Nano Letters:

In particular, we have found that long graphene beams supported by only one side do not scroll or fold, in striking contrast to the current perception of graphene as a supple thin fabric, but demonstrate sufficient stiffness to support extremely large loads, millions of times exceeding their own weight, in agreement with the presented theory.

—Jim

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