New Paper Technology is 500 Times Stronger Than Steel

Alex Castle

Image Credit: Wikipedia

These days it seems like “nanotube” is sort of a magic word. Scientists will say something crazy like “We’re building an elevator to space” and everyone else asks “How you gonna do that, scientists?” and they just say “carbon nanotubes,” and we’re like “oh, cool.” So go ahead and guess how scientists have created a kind of paper that’s 500 times as strong as steel and only weighs a tenth as much.

That’s right, it’s nanotubes. The paper, called “buckypaper,” is flexible in single sheets, and can be layered to form rigid plates. It’s being rapidly developed for commercial production, for use in everything from armor to laptops to fuel cells.

Ben Wang, one of the professors leading the charge to commercialize buckypaper, explains that the strength of the paper comes from nanotubes’ enormous surface area, saying “If you take a gram of nanotubes, just one gram, and if you unfold every tube into a graphite sheet, you can cover about two-thirds of a football field.”

What do you all think? How might we use this super-strong paper in the future? Hit the jump and let us know.

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