New Lightweight Material From MIT Scientists is Stronger Than Steel and as Light as Plastic:
Polymer film courtesy of the researchers; Christine Daniloff, MIT
Using a novel polymerization process, MIT chemical engineers have created a new material that is stronger than steel and as light as plastic, and can be easily manufactured in large quantities. Such a material could be used as a lightweight, durable coating for car parts or cell phones, or as a building material for bridges or other structures, says Michael Strano, the senior author of the new study. The new material is a two-dimensional polymer that self-assembles into sheets, unlike all other polymers, which form one-dimensional, spaghetti-like chains. Polymers, which include all plastics, consist of chains of building blocks called monomers. These chains grow by adding new molecules onto their ends. Once formed, polymers can be shaped into three-dimensional objects, such as water bottles, using injection molding. Not only this but this new polymer was found to be six times stronger than bulletproof glass and because of its seamless stacked structure, it does not allow any gasses to seep through.