Buckypaper is stronger than steel at a fraction of the weightFlorida State University
by Barry Ray
Working with a material 10 times lighter than steel—but 250 times stronger—would be a dream come true for any engineer.
One Florida State University research group, the Florida Advanced Center for Composite Technologies (FAC2T), is working to develop real-world applications for just such a material.
Ben Wang, a professor of industrial engineering at the Florida A&M University-FSU College of Engineering, serves as director of FAC2T, which works to develop new, high-performance composite materials, as well as technologies for producing them.
"At FAC2T, our objective is to push the envelope to find out just how strong a composite material we can make using buckypaper," Wang said. "In addition, we're focused on developing processes that will allow it to be mass-produced cheaply."
Buckypaper owes its name to Buckminsterfullerene, or Carbon 60—a type of carbon molecule whose powerful atomic bonds make it twice as hard as a diamond.
Buckypaper has shown promise in a variety of applications, including the development of aerospace structures, the production of more-effective body armor and armored vehicles, and the construction of next-generation computer displays.
Among the possible uses for buckypaper that are being researched at FAC2T:
If exposed to an electric charge, buckypaper could be used to illuminate computer and television screens.
As one of the most thermally conductive materials known, buckypaper lends itself to the development of heat sinks that would allow computers and other electronic equipment to disperse heat more efficiently than is currently possible.
Films also could protect electronic circuits and devices within airplanes from electromagnetic interference,
Similarly, such films could allow military aircraft to shield their electromagnetic "signatures," which can be detected via radar.
FSU researcher's "buckypaper" is stronger than steel at a fraction of the weight