Tech Radar | Punchy applications for featherweight material
September 13, 2017
A superlight, super-elastic and electrically conductive “metamaterial” has been designed by researchers at Purdue University.
Other properties conferred to the material, including flame-resistance and thermal insulation, infer the substance could have numerous applications, from construction to aerospace.
The composite material uses nano-layers of ceramic aluminium oxide in combination with graphene. The graphene scaffold, referred to as an aerogel, is chemically bonded with ceramic layers using a process called atomic layer deposition. Although the constituent parts are brittle in isolation, the material’s honeycomb microstructure provides super-elasticity and structural robustness.
The composite may make a good substrate material for flexible electronic devices and strain sensors, or as a flame-retardant, thermally insulating coating, and thermoelectric devices, according to associate professor in the university’s School of Industrial Engineering, Gary Cheng.
Findings were detailed in a research paper published in Advanced Materials. This was produced in collaboration between Purdue, Lanzhou University and the Harbin Institute of Technology, both in China, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
The process of manufacturing could also be scaled up for industrial manufacturing, Cheng said. Future work will include research to enhance the material’s properties, possibly by changing its crystalline structure, scaling up the process for manufacturing and controlling the microstructure to tune material properties.