China, a new “super material” developed in the laboratory


More resistant than metals and ceramics, more sustainable. It is the new material developed in the laboratory by a team of Chinese scientists, which in perspective for these characteristics could constitute a promising and more ecological alternative to the technopolymers used by the automotive and aerospace industries. The announcement comes from the professor Yu Shuhong, professor at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, capital of the eastern province of Anhui.As reported by the international scientific journal Science Advances, the density of this “super material” is only one sixth of that of steel. Featuring exceptional strength and toughness, the new compound is able to withstand temperatures ranging from -120 to +150 degrees Celsius. Professor Yu points out that this new material was created from nanofibrillated cellulose, one of the most abundant resources in the environment and which can be derived from plants or produced by some bacteria.
With a diameter less than a tenth of a thousandth of that of a human hair, nanofibrillated cellulose is stronger than steel on a microscale. However, at larger scales the compounds of this material become increasingly weaker. Chinese researchers explained that the superior properties of this new material are due to a 3D network of nanofibers produced with biosynthesis methods starting from glucose. On a scale in the order of microns, the new compound has a multi-layered structure.

“It’s similar to a sequence of cobweb layers,” he explained Guan Qingfang, member of the group of scientists. According to the researcher, if subjected to an impact at the speed of 100 kilometers per hour, this structure can instantly absorb and dissipate huge quantities of energy, without undergoing deformation or cracks, revealing itself in this sense superior to ceramic, plastics and alloys aluminum.

The new material could find various applications in the production of cars, aircraft and precision instruments, in particular in the aerospace field, such as the support for optical lenses for the lunar rover which requires lightness, high resistance and stability at extreme temperatures.
Cellulose, the researchers note, has also made the material more economical, ecological and capable of replacing the technopolymers used in various industries.

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