Paper-thin, diamond-hard graphene stops bullets

Scientists have develop a new, super-thin, highly flexible material, known as diamene, made from two layers of graphene that can become as hard as a diamond when a bullet strikes it.

The invention could allow development of a broad range of materials designed to protect the body and other fragile objects.

Graphene, which has many amazing properties, is a form of carbon made up of a single layer of atoms arranged in an hexagonal pattern.

The new material, created by researchers from City University of New York (CUNY), is described in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

“This is the thinnest film with the stiffness and hardness of diamond ever created,” says co-author and lead research Elisa Riedo, professor of physics at CUNY’s Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), in a statement. “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 as stiff, or stiffer, than bulk diamond.”

Credit for developing the theory that led to the creation of diamene goes to co-author Angelo Bongiorno, associate professor of chemistry at CUNY College of Staten Island, who used computer simulations to predict potential outcomes

“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,” say Bongiorno. “Our new technique allows us to manipulate granite so that it can take on the beneficial properties of a diamond under specific conditions.”

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