When talking about moving vehicles, weight is almost always the enemy of performance. It takes more power to get moving, longer to stop and reduces the speed at which you can turn. While aluminum can solve some of these issues, many applications call for something stronger and this is where we turn to steel. However, a new material, called Buckypaper, may almost completely wipe out the need for steel in automotive and aeronautical applications.
While one sheet may not seem like the ideal product for building the car of your dreams, when several sheets are pressed together, they become exponentially stronger. Some scientists are estimating the strength Buckypaper to be somewhere in the realm of 500 times stronger than traditional steel, while also being ten times lighter.
Another characteristic of Buckypaper that sets it out from traditional composite materials is that it can conduct electricity similarly to copper and silicon, while also dispersing heat as rapidly as aluminum. This opens up the ability to produce complex circuitry and wiring that does not weight nearly as much as before.
Although research is moving quickly, there are some areas that will need to be researched more in depth. One of the issues that has proven somewhat hard to find a solution was bonding. The surface of the Carbon nanotubes that make up Buckypaper are very smooth, which makes most adhesives ineffective.
Scientists are working on a way to artificially create some surface defects in the nanotubes to aid in the bonding process. Yes, this will also compromise the strength of the material, but the slight loss will be negligible when considering how much easier it will be to bond the Buckypaper.
Like all new materials, production is slow and expensive, but that could change very quickly when people being to see the numerous uses for Buckypaper. Many manufactures are already talking about high efficiency vehicles and planes that use a fraction of the fuel they have to use now. The military is also looking into using it for armor plating and stealth technology.
Source : The Future of Things