New material much stronger than carbon fibre: Graphene
21st May 2011, 19:49 at 7:49 pm #129419
This could have very interesting implications for Formula 1 – especially being able to build much much lighter cars with the new engine formula.
“Our research establishes graphene as the strongest material ever measured, some 200 times stronger than structural steel,” mechanical engineering professor James Hone, of Columbia University, said in a statement.
“It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap [cling film].”
Much has been made of graphene’s potential. It can be used for anything from composite materials – like how carbon-fibre is used currently – to electronics.
This material has been discovered theoretically for a long time – it is just a tight molecular arrangement of carbon atoms – but nobody thought it could actually be built and isolated. It is so strong, that even a layer that is a few atoms thick (ie. invisible) can hold up a weight of a few kilograms.
see also on Wikipedia:
I have always wondered how these recent advancements in materials science, and more importantly, nanotechnology, would apply to F1. In theory they could build a car using nanotech that is ultra thin, ultra strong and ultra light (in the order of a few tens of kilograms) and electrical signals passing through the chassis would be able to communicate with each section of the car – so in theory if you rub against someone, a computer back in the pits automatically knows which parts of the car have been touched. To take that further, the material can ‘morph’ in real time and setup the aero in any number of ways for each corner and each section of track – a bit like active suspension, but in this case it would be ‘active chassis’.
You could also build AI into the car to adjust weight distribution, flex out the wings,detect airflow and adjust (imagine an active chassis that is constantly measuring airflow and adjusting its surfaces to reduce tension and drag).
I wonder how much of this they will allow in F1 – I hope all of it. The first team that starts using these materials and nanotech is going to have a very very big advantage. The rules and regulations don’t really account for it at all.21st May 2011, 19:49 at 7:49 pm #168969
the headline was supposed to be ‘much stronger and smarter than carbon fiber’21st May 2011, 19:52 at 7:52 pm #168970
That would make for some amazing windows! So thin they don’t even look like they are there but stronger than the standard glass windows wwe have now, when they freshen up the interior of the MTC in 20 years I bet they use that stuff to replace the glass panels!21st May 2011, 20:13 at 8:13 pm #168971
Would this material be allowed under the restrictions by the FIA? I would love F1 to spearhead this, and things like that, into regular use for extreme circumstances.21st May 2011, 20:32 at 8:32 pm #168972
Truly exciting stuff, thanks Nik. I don’t think the more exotic properties would be allowed into F1 but the weight-saving alone would be a godsend. Say, mandate half the weight of the current cars so it’s lighter but much, much stronger.21st May 2011, 21:32 at 9:32 pm #168973
it looks like it would be very expensive to make a whole car out of21st May 2011, 22:14 at 10:14 pm #168974
Sounds expensive! But hey, this is F1 and its all about the new tech and this stuff sounds the bee’s knees.21st May 2011, 22:27 at 10:27 pm #168975
It would just be like the thing for F1 to go down a cost saving route by:
Introducing new engines, 2013 V4 Turbos.
A new aero system, [albeit without Venturi Ground Effect Tunnels]
And a brand new cutting edge chassis material!!
The development costs to be competative would be astounding! Still, it’s going to be brilliant!21st May 2011, 22:54 at 10:54 pm #168976
It’s a long way off. You won’t see such a widescale application of this, especially in anything bigger than a processor for years I shouldn’t think. Even if they could now, the FIA would think the 4 letter word beginning with ‘C’ (cost :P) makes it ‘unappropriate for F1’, even though it would probably encompass everything the sports about21st May 2011, 23:14 at 11:14 pm #168977
All the work done on graphene has been at atomic level. Not even useful microscopic amounts of the material have been worked on. Just because it’s that strong at the atomic level does not mean a) that it will scale up; b) that it will scale up with the same properties; c) that it will be manufacturable.22nd May 2011, 0:33 at 12:33 am #168978
You could break and get away with all sorts of body work rules if you could get the extremely thin invisible graphene pieces to make flaps, bargeboards or integrate invisible structures into the diffusers ect… ;) ;)22nd May 2011, 1:31 at 1:31 am #168979
I’ve heard of this before, but I don’t think it will be in F1 for a long time. F1 already bans a whole load of different materials on cost grounds, so I doubt a brand new material would make it passed the regs.22nd May 2011, 4:36 at 4:36 am #168980
Hairs: you’re right, but it isn’t just graphene, it is carbon nanotubes in general and all the new materials. It is an entire new field of materials that has been discovered and developed (well, discovered a long time ago, only more recently developed).
carbon fiber was originally cost prohibitive as well, but with industrial applications the costs to manufacture were reduced very quickly. some of these materials in combination with nanotech promise cheaper and easier manufacturing – ie. straight from a computer to 3d printing. that might be ~10 years away, but in the interim I would like to see some teams experiment with nanotubes on some surfaces – entire new exciting field
I agree that the new formula should be: much lighter cars + ground effect (less dirty air) + turbocharged smaller engines. It could be speeds faster than todays F1 but with overtaking like NASCAR22nd May 2011, 4:38 at 4:38 am #168981
related (and interesting), world first ‘printed’ building:
I have had a chance to play with a 3d printer (we printed puzzles and things of that nature – escher-type stuff) and they are fascinating. we aren’t far away from desktop/home 3d printing
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