Graphene may find use as Kevlar alternative

Graphene is a wonder material that has lots of potential for use in electronics. Scientists all around the world are studying the material and the applications that it is suited for. One of those groups has been studying graphene for a use that has nothing to do with electronics; this group is looking at the material as a component for making body armor. Today body armor is typically made from Kevlar and other materials.

Researchers in the US have tested graphene by firing tiny silica spheres at sheets of graphene. The sheet of graphene used in the tests was only one atom thick and they found that the material could be stronger than steel for absorbing impacts. The team observed the graphene as the silica spheres were shot at it using an electron microscope.

The spheres penetrated the single atom thick layers of graphene between 10 and 100 layers thick and the kinetic energy of the spheres before and after they penetrated the graphene was measured. The team found that the graphene dissipates energy by stretching into a cone shape, and then cracks in various directions.

The findings showed that graphene could withstand 8-10 times the impact that steel can withstand. Cracking presents a problem with using graphene alone in body armor, the material would have to be used in some sort of composite to prevent the cracking.