Diamene, a newly-developed ultralight and virtually impenetrable material

Nanotech

Graphene Nanotube Image via Pixabay

A group of physicists and chemists developed a new material as flexible and lightweight as foil that can become impenetrable enough to stop a bullet on impact.

The researchers from the City University of New York (CUNY) and the Georgia Institute of Technology developed a material called Diamene, an ultralight material that can instantly become harder than diamonds.

In a new research published recently in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers described a new process for creating flexible layered sheets of graphene that become virtually impenetrable on impact. Lead researcher Elisa Riedo of the Advanced Science Research Center at CUNY suggested that the material could also potentially be used as a wear-resistant protective coating that could be used to create a new class of armor for people, vehicles, or even spacecraft.

Angelo Bongiorno, who is also an associate professor of chemistry at the CUNY College of Staten Island, developed the theory for creating Diamene. The technique essentially combines two layers of flexible graphene that snap together to form a new structure when they are deformed by outside pressure.

“Graphite and diamonds are both made entirely of carbon, but the atoms are arranged differently in each material, giving them distinct properties such as hardness, flexibility, and electrical conduction,” Bongiorno noted. “Our new technique allows us to manipulate graphite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions.”

The researchers’ lab experiments and computer simulations showed that the graphite-diamond transition only occurs when exactly two layers of graphene are included.

“This is the thinnest film with the stiffness and hardness of diamond ever created,” researcher Elisa Riedo said in a statement. She further noted, “Previously, when we tested graphite or a single atomic layer of graphene, we would apply pressure and feel a very soft film. But when the graphite film was exactly two-layers thick, all of a sudden, we realized that the material under pressure was becoming extremely hard and stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond.”

Riedo added that further research is needed to explore the methods of stabilizing the process and predicting how the transition will behave under different conditions.