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Graphene paper shows promise for potential automotive lightweighting

Scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney (Australia) are developing a composite material based on graphite that is a thin as paper and ten times stronger than steel.

Graphene paper sample. Picture by Lisa Aloisio, UTS. Click to enlarge.

In work recently published in the Journal of Applied Physics, a UTS research team supervised by Professor Guoxiu Wang has developed reproducible test results and nanostructural samples of graphene paper, a material with potential applications in the automotive, aviation, electrical and optical industries.

Graphene paper (GP) is a material that can be processed, reshaped and reformed from its original raw material state—graphite. Researchers at UTS have successfully milled the raw graphite by purifying and filtering it with chemicals to reshape and reform it into nano-structured configurations which are then processed into sheets as thin as paper.

These graphene nanosheet stacks consist of monolayer hexagonal carbon lattices and are placed in perfectly arranged laminar structures which give them exceptional thermal, electrical and mechanical properties.

Using a synthesized method and heat treatment, the UTS research team has produced material with extraordinary bending, rigidity and hardness mechanical properties. Compared to steel, the prepared GP is six times lighter, five to six times lower density, two times harder with 10 times higher tensile strength and 13 times higher bending rigidity.

Graphene paper (GP) has been prepared by flow-directed assembly of graphene nanosheets. The mechanical properties of as-prepared GPs were investigated by tensile, indentation, and bending tests. Heat treated GPs demonstrate superior hardness, ten times that of synthetic graphite, and two times that of carbon steel; besides, their yielding strength is significantly higher than that of carbon steel. GPs show extremely high modulus of elasticity during bending test; in the range of a few terapascal. The high strength and stiffness of GP is ascribed to the interlocking-tile microstructure of individual graphene nanosheets in the paper. These outstanding mechanical properties of GPs could lead to a wide range of engineering applications.

—Ranjbartoreh et al.


  • Ali R. Ranjbartoreh, Bei Wang, Xiaoping Shen, and Guoxiu Wang (2011) Advanced mechanical properties of graphene paper. J. Appl. Phys. 109, 014306 doi: 10.1063/1.3528213



Sounds awesome....but hard/expensive to manufacture.


Amazing material. Automation and mass production may be the solutions to lower cost. The basic material used is not expensive. Possible applications are numerous. Could be used for many vehicle components.

Space vehicles may be the first applications followed by military unmanned ultra light e-airplanes (flying robots).

How far has it gone for batteries?


Sounds like a wonderful material. Hope it is/can be economical.


When the car industry uses so much steel for body panels they become a big customer. I can imagine that the people working with this material are also thinking of ways to make it less expensive.


Might be a bit expensive for cars.
Might have applications in aerospace and badminton rackets.


I was thinking of a cable for the space elevator.


Can anybody tell me if it is stronger than tritanium?


If you mean titanium, yes; considerably.


I think of titanium for high heat applications in engines or high speed aircraft skins. Each material has its strong points, but I can not see making car body panels out of titanium.

I read that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they had titanium sheets selling at low prices. They made a building in Spain covered with it because they got a great deal. I would imagine the building will last quite a while, but that was an unusual case.

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