back to article MIT brainiacs wrangle 2D graphene into super-strong 3D art homework

Graphene is said to be the wonder material of our age, but it’s largely a 2D affair. Now scientists have made 3D structures out of the stuff that will be an engineer’s dream. Since the first atom-thick strips of graphene were produced, the substance has shown remarkable properties, including extraordinary strength and …

  1. mt_head

    So... not actually a story about graphene, really?

    Interesting nonetheless, but unless I missed it they didn't actually, y'know, _build_ a graphene gyroid - they 3D-printed some plastic ones and speculated about graphene. Not quite such a catchy headline, I suppose.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: So... not actually a story about graphene, really?

      ^^That...

      I don't even find it that interesting. They only speculate about some method they MIGHT be able to do it, but this once again is the ever-lasting problem with the "wonder material" graphene. It's O so magical and wonderful and super, but we have no way of producing it in any meaningful quantity or structure. We've been promised graphene batteries for eons now, and still nothing seems to be happening even on that front (And those would use "simple" 2D graphene sheets).

    2. DaLo

      Re: So... not actually a story about graphene, really?

      Yes, the report states "In stress testing, graphene gyroids with thicker walls were able to withstand very heavy loads under the ram before explosively blowing apart"

      This is not correct as the stress testing in the video was performed on plastic models (the lead picture also shows the plastic model).

    3. DrM

      Re: So... not actually a story about graphene, really?

      Yup, not pink graphene after all.

      My usual comment for such articles -- investors, make your checks payable to "CASH."

  2. Tom 7 Silver badge

    So no-one MAKING graphene in any useful sizes yet

    Not surprised - its not worth investing in that as everyone and his dog with a graphene patent will make more money than you will.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, still playing with their lab toy

    Graphene, carbon nanotubes, magic batteries, super cables and the list goes on.

    Well done boffins, making a new thingamabob and getting publishing credits.

    Could we finally get a real-life implementation of this wondrous technology, or will we have to wait another 100 years ?

    1. cray74

      Re: So, still playing with their lab toy

      Could we finally get a real-life implementation of this wondrous technology, or will we have to wait another 100 years ?

      We should be down to 75 years. ;) The graphene / nanotube / buckyball craze blew up around 1990 and was hot stuff while I was in college shortly thereafter.

      But more seriously, it typically takes a few decades to get novel materials into service. Engineers with critical applications that need wonder materials also want vast amounts of data and narrow scatter bars on material properties before they'll risk using it.

      Graphene is near the beginning of the curve, and cursed with the problem that its super properties are most applicable at the microscopic scale. Scaling up to bulk materials comes with huge reductions in performance.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Worse than that.

    This is a 3d model made 10^7x bigger in plastic so they could test it in the press.

    The rest is a (detailed) computer simulation.

    To make real actual 3d Graphene it looks like you might as well build a set of manipulators to pick up fragments in a low H atmosphere and bring the close enough together that they form bonds directly.

    The big takeaway seems to be their model does model the behavior of the 3d shape they printed despite being 10 million times bigger and made of photoreactive polymer, not Graphene. So maybe other materials fabricated with these shapes may have superior properties to using the bulk material.

    So 3d printed geometries may be able to outperform the same material in bulk.

    Who knew?

    1. Schultz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Science fiction

      Atomic printing of hollow 3D graphene structures that are lighter than air!

      Project milestones:

      (1) Simulate it in the computer -- check

      (2) 3D print it -- check

      (3) Test the mechanical properties -- check

      In sum, one of the best science fiction projects TheReg ever reported on.

  5. Falanx

    Numbers cut from whole cloth

    4.6% the density of steel, you quote? As in...0.36gcm^-3, or a third the density of water? Really? Whoever proofread this nonsense might want to do some elementary science classes.

    And yet 10 times the strength of that same steel? Which steel? IF sheet, used for car doors at 180MPa, or scifer wire, at 5000MPa? This isn't doing the public opinion of graphene in the eyes of actual scientists much good.

  6. Tom Paine

    ...gyroids: a sponge-like arrangement invented in the 1970s by NASA engineer Alan Schoen [...]

    Philosophical point to muse over whilst waiting for my postlunch carbs slump to pass: invented? Or discovered? I'd say the latter, but what do I know...?

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Headmaster

      Invented or discovered?

      "Invent" implies that the arrangement was created by Alan Schoen whereas "discover" implies that it existed independent of him and then he found out about it. In this context, I suggest that he invented the class of physical arrangements and the experimenters in the article are discovering its properties.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Was I the only person who thought they're like the Fermi surfaces of metals?

    Not sure if that's common maths or simply coincidence.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lighter than air?

    They were shooting pretty high there. If they could find a way to effectively 3D print such structures from steel and use say 25% of the steel currently used for structural components in buildings that would be a pretty big advance without getting into exotic materials we can't yet make in large quantities.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Graphene = Biggest hyped bollocks ever

    The awarding of a Nobel Prize to the discovery of this stuff was sadly extremely premature.

    Kinda like the Peace prize dished out to someone with precisely zero past achievements in the field who turned out to be quite the war monger - Barry Obama.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Graphene gyroid has been made!

    Wow! Real graphene gyroids manufactured by scientists from Cambridge, UK !

    http://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4997774

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