A new material could unlock revolutionary potential for car manufacturers and even the creation of next-generation body armor, new reports indicate. The material is said to be four times stronger than steel and up to five times lighter. That’s a very bold claim and one that no doubt will have a lot of eyes on it going forward.
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The new material was created by researchers and material scientists working at UConn, Columbia University, and Brookhaven National Lab. The material is detailed in a study that was published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science in July of this year.
The researchers say that the new material is four times stronger than steel, making it sturdier than one of the most commonly used materials in constructing vehicles, buildings, and other things. They created the material by using a DNA scaffold, which enabled the formation of complex nanostructured silica – a material similar to glass.
Glass being stronger than steel might seem impossible, but glass is usually so fragile because of flaws within its structure. The new DNA scaffold eliminates many of these flaws and allows for a material with greater durability. It is similar to glass but more durable than steel.
Of course, creating a large piece of glass that is completely flawless is a huge endeavor. The researchers used their cleverness and nano-sized pieces of glass to create this material. This allowed it to be constructed from several flawless pieces of glass, in a frame design. Imagine it as the structure of a house, but much smaller.
From this point, researchers coated each piece of glass with just a few hundreds atoms’ worth. The material is stronger and lighter than steel because of the large amount of space that exists between each individual piece.
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