Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Revolution In Materials Engineering

Buckypaper! It sounds cutesy, but this thin sheet of paper-like material is stronger than steel. The possibilities are truly mind-blowing! Weight is everything when you want to build and design a plane, irrespective of whether it's for civilian or military purposes. Composite materials and alloys have been used for a while now, but cost and availability of precious metals like titanium play a humongous factor in production. Carbon fiber is the de facto material nowadays. Glass has even been used, for the HondaJet (all-glass body).

This is huge. I'm not sure what kind of strength they mean, if it's tensile or shear (I think also hardness is a measure here), but this is definitely a step forward. Of course, as this video explains, cost is still high, and production yield is quite low, so manufacturing processes have to be improved. But damned if this isn't good news for airplane manufacturers, bulletproof/stabproof armor developers, and the like. (EDIT: here is the Wikipedia page for Buckypaper)

Here is the official site of the developers, and credit goes to the Diggers I got the article from.

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