Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers have created a new material stronger than steel but as light as plastic.
Unlike other polymers that often form one dimensional chain, this novel 2D polymer material can self-assemble into sheets. Because the material self-assembles, it can also be easily manufactured in large quantities.
“Instead of making a spaghetti-like molecule, we can make a sheet-like molecular plane, where we get molecules to hook themselves together in two dimensions,” said Michael Strano, senior author of the study. “This mechanism happens spontaneously in solution, and after we synthesize the material, we can easily spin-coat thin films that are extraordinarily strong.”
It could be used to coat other materials
The team calls the material 2DPA-1. Unique properties of this material could make it suitable to be used in vehicles or electronics. It could be used for a lightweight, durable, watertight coating for vehicles, electronic devices like smartphones. It could also be used as a construction material for bridges or other structures.
“We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things,” said Strano. “It has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that.”