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Super wood as strong as steel can stop a bullet

For years, researchers have known that carbon, when arranged in a certain way, can be very strong.

Two man-made materials based on carbon, Graphene and Carbyne, are among the strongest in the world.

Carbyne is linear acetylenic carbon, or an infinitely long carbon chain.

Its existence was first proposed in 1885 by Adolf von Baeyer, who warned it would remain elusive due to extreme instability.

Carbyne is a one-dimensional form of carbon and is thought to be 40 times stiffer than diamond and twice as stiff as graphene, outperforming all other carbon materials in strength.

After eluding scientists for more than 50 years, a team of researchers found a way to not only synthesize carbyne, but to mass produce it, in April 2016.

Graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon atoms bound in a hexagonal network, was previously thought to be the strongest man-made substance.

It not only promises to revolutionize semiconductor, sensor, and display technology, but could also lead to breakthroughs in fundamental quantum physics research.

It is often depicted as an atomic-scale chicken wire made of carbon atoms and their bonds.

Scientists believe it could one day be used to make transparent conducting materials, biomedical sensors and even extremely light, yet strong, aircraft of the future.

Similar to another important nanomaterial – carbon nanotubes – graphene is incredibly strong – around 200 times stronger than structural steel.  

While notable for its thinness and unique electrical properties, it’s very difficult to create useful, three-dimensional materials out of graphene.

In January, 2017, a team of MIT researchers discovered that taking small flakes of graphene and fusing them following a mesh-like structure not only retains the material’s strength, but the graphene also remains porous. 

Based on experiments conducted on 3D printed models, they determined that this new material can be used to make objects 10 times stronger than steel, with only five per cent of its density.