MIT team creates plastic that is “stronger than steel”
A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created a polymer that has twice the yield strength of steel, but only a sixth of the density.
The plastic could have a range of uses, from bridges and buildings to automobile or electronics manufacturing.
We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things
Michael Strano, MIT professor of chemical engineering
The material was created using a polymerization technique that generates an impermeable sheet called a polyaramide, which was previously though impossible to make. The material, known as 2DPA-1, is six times stronger than bulletproof glass and could be used to add a protective coating to surfaces.
Michael Strano, MIT professor of chemical engineering, said: “Instead of making a spaghetti-like molecule, we can make a sheet-like molecular plane, where we get molecules to hook themselves together in two dimensions.
“This mechanism happens spontaneously in solution, and after we synthesise the material, we can easily spin-coat thin films that are extraordinarily strong.”
Strano continues: “We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things.