A new metamaterial developed by Purdue University researchers is lightweight, flame resistant and super elastic. The material manages to combine high strength, electrical conductivity and thermal insulation. This could have huge implications for the manufacturing industry with potential applications ranging from sensors to heat shields.
The new composite combines two brittle materials, nanolayers of aluminum oxide and graphene. To counter this attribute the researchers employed a honeycomb microstructure which improves the structural integrity and its elasticity. Typically graphene would degrade when exposed to high temperatures but thanks to the ceramic aluminum oxide the metamaterial has a high heat tolerance and flame resistance. Both of these qualities are highly favorable to heat shields on aircrafts.
Furthermore, the lightweight, high strength and shock absorbing qualities make it a perfect choice for flexible electronic devices and large strain sensors. Due to the material’s high electrical conductivity and thermal insulation capabilities it has the potential to be used as a flame retardant, thermally insulated sensor that can convert heat into electricity.
Researchers published their findings for the material in Advanced Materials. The research was made possible through a collaboration between Purdue, Lanzhou University, the Harbin Institute of Technology and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
Gary Cheng, an associate professor in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue explained what makes the material such an important discovery “The outstanding properties of today’s ceramic-based components have been used to enable many multifunctional applications, including thermal protective skins, intelligent sensors, electromagnetic wave absorption and anticorrosion coatings.” (http://bit.ly/2vn2dwr)
Cheng went on to explain how the material would avoid the drawbacks commonly associated with ceramic based materials that typically prevent them from being used as structural or functional parts. “Here, we report a multifunctional ceramic-graphene metamaterial with microstructure-derived super-elasticity and structural robustness,” Cheng said. “We achieved this by designing a hierarchical honeycomb microstructure assembled with multi-nanolayer cellular walls serving as basic elastic units. This metamaterial demonstrates a sequence of multifunctional properties simultaneously that have not been reported for ceramics and ceramics–matrix–composite structures.” (http://bit.ly/2vn2dwr)
This material is a fascinating development for the manufacturing industry. Thanks to the research from this talented team, it seems as though manufacturers from around the globe have a new solution to a plethora of common problems. As of now, the material is not ready for mass production but the team is still hard at work. Manufacturing Talk Radio keeps a close eye on all the latest developments across the industry so be sure to check back for more information soon.