The incredible wonder-material, graphene, never ceases to amaze.
Bulletproof vests of the future could be made of a swank, super-flexible material known as diamene, which hardens to the strength of a diamond the moment a bullet smacks into it.
It’s some pretty flashy technology, made possible thanks to the amazing properties of graphene, a wonder-material made from a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in an hexagonal lattice.
Scientists at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at The City University of New York (CUNY) discovered the bullet-stopping power of diamene after placing two layers of graphene together. When enough force was applied to these dual-layered sheets, they transformed into an impenetrable diamond plate.
“This is the thinnest film with the stiffness and hardness of diamond ever created,” said Elisa Riedo, lead researcher on the project, 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.”
The material works thanks to the atomic structure of the graphene sheets, wherein each atom in the lattice has three electrons firmly occupied in bonds, and one left free to wander about. When two graphene sheets are pressed together by a sudden force, however, those wandering electrons also link up, which just happens to form the atomic structure that makes diamond.