back to article Graphene QUILT: A good trampoline for elephants in stiletto heels

Fears that the radical wonder material graphene might not actually be strong enough for elephants to stand supported in mid-air on a thin film of it, on one leg, while wearing stiletto heels, have been disproven. And the material - set to revolutionise just about everything, as soon as people can figure out ways to start using …

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Thumbs up for a "As any fule kno" and also for "the enticing prospect of paper-thin trampolines for elephants wearing spike heels".

Lewis obviously had a good weekend.

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Trollface

"Lewis obviously had a good weekend."

I wonder if he spent the weekend with Rik Myslewski - it might explain this article...

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Joke

Fears that the radical wonder material graphene might not actually be strong enough for elephants to stand supported in mid-air on a thin film of it, on one leg, while wearing stiletto heels, have been disproven.

Now this is one absolutely crying out for a Playmobile (re)construction...

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Boffin

"If this is avoided"

So they've done the easy bit of identifying the suboptimal stage of the process, but don't have an alternate suggestion?

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Re: "If this is avoided"

By god, Eadon's bang on the money here!

Have a +1

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Def
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Joke

Re: Eadon's bang on the money here!

Clearly his account has been hacked by a 13 year old script kiddie in China.

+1s all round though.

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Adhesives

I've always wondered why thy can't 'glue' (for lack of a better word) it together. The adhesives used for wood and some ceramic applications are significantly stronger than the material itself. With carbon fiber and fiberglass the resins act to bind the materials into a solid unit which is where the strength comes from. Most materials are dependent on at least a second component to perform in a useful fashion, why not graphene? I'm sure there's an answer...

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Re: Adhesives

By adding a secondary material they would no longer be able to say: "Behold the Awesome POWER of purest Carbon, arranged in an atomic lattice known as Graphene!!!"

The amazing Material Of The Future could be seen as diluted and reduced to the status of a compound or similar ... that just will not do when trying to get a research grant for some really cool new lab toys!

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Happy

Re: Adhesives

It just seems like they are trying to solve all the challenges instead of letting it develop in a evolutionary way. Cast iron was a godsend until people figured out how to make steel. Now there are innumerable alloys and manufacturing methods that were developed through ingenuity to fulfill various needs.

Instead of trying to capitalize on the end user market they could do everyone a lot more good and still make a lot of money if they put out affordable materials development kits and focused on streamlining the manufacture of what they already have. Lab workers are like focus groups and economists, they rarely anticipate how the market will react.

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Ru

Re: Adhesives

why not graphene?

Probably because any such glue would be significantly less strong than a single molecule graphene sheet, and almost certainly wouldn't have the same sort of material benefits with regards to weight, conductivity and whatever else graphene is presumably good for in bulk form. I don't doubt that graphene-reinforced composites will exist in the future once the whole pesky fabrication process has been solved, but single-molecule graphene sheet reinforced composites will be substantially tougher things than materials made from lots of little slices instead..

As regards the research money gravy train... my money is on graphene becoming commercially viable before fusion ;-)

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Re: Adhesives

Cast iron was a godsend until people figured out how to make steel.

Cast iron is still a godsend for cooking. It's a pain to maintain, but I'd not trade my cast iron cookware for steel for all the tea in China. The right material for the right job.

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Alert

But why??

Why do we want bouncing giant pachyderms? They do enough damage moving on a flat plane (plain?) without giving them the ability to leap (onto) houses in a single bound!

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Re: But why??

Houses maybe not, but I can see the attraction of airborne proboscideans landing on poachers.

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Re: But why??

"Why do we want bouncing giant pachyderms? "

It's something for them to stand on while Great A'Tuin goes on holiday.

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Re: But why??

"Why do we want bouncing giant pachyderms? "

It's something for them to stand on while Great A'Tuin goes on holiday.

That or Disney want to remake Fantasia (again).

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Re: But why??

Live action Fantasia? I can get behind that.

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Mushroom

Re: But why??

Live action Fantasia? I can get behind that.

You obviously didnt see the Sorcerors Appretice with Nic Cage........ <shudder>

Nuke it from Orbit etc etc

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Re: But why??

Why would you *not* want bouncing giant pachyderms in Louboutins? fashion-conscious elephantidae need bouncy castles too! I mean, what would they do in half term?

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Photograph

or it didn't happen.

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Cutting it?

Cling-film is supplied with a handy cardboard serrated "cutter" for dividing rolls into handy lengths. Will graphene-film be as easy to cut?

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Re: Cutting it?

You did bring your lightsaber, right?

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Ru

Re: Cutting it?

I expect it will yield to a good lasering, as most things tend to do. Plasma cutters may also work. Researchers have used electron beams and metal nanoparticles to do fairly fine machining, though they're not quite so convenient to work with..

If it tore as easily as clingfilm, it wouldn't be nearly so interesting as a structural material.

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Re: Cutting it?

Bad idea. Graphene burns. It has many useful properties, but being fireproof is not one of them. If you want to cut it, heat could be a good way to go about it (quite a lot of heat), but you'd need to heat it without igniting - perhaps a laser with a little nitrogen jet keeping the cutting spot oxygen-free. That, or you could cut it chemically. Or the simple way, with a diamond cutting disc and a brute force.

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Childcatcher

Re: Cutting it?

I expect it will yield to a good lasering...Plasma cutters may also work.

The problem may then become how to stop cutting it.

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Re: Cutting it?

Are diamond tips hard enough to cut graphene?

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What's the problem? Simply use the previously tried and tested method.

Here's the development process:

1. Take a normal graphite pencil, and a roll of sellotape.

2. Apply the sellotape to the pencil "lead".

3. Remove the sellotape.

Voila! A perfect sheet of graphene.

4. scale up the above process to pachydermic scales, and repeat.

NB

This methodology may result in the devastation of the worlds remaining Sequoia forests as we attempt to make pencils large enough. It may be prudent to decide up-front whether this is a wise thing to do.

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FAIL

Re: What's the problem? Simply use the previously tried and tested method.

Boo to the humourless bastard who downvoted this post.

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Another SF scenario in the making

The possibility of stringing an invisibly thin thread of incredibly strong material across a doorway at neck height has been the subject of some SF (possibly Pournelle, mercenaries stories?). If graphene can be made into threads then I can see a whole new area of terror opening up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another SF scenario in the making

Well, a couple of inches of monofilament can at least be used for slicing up cheese, if you can hold it without cutting the ends of your fingers off.

However, this is sad news for us space elevator fans. A couple of square inches of graphene fabric is only going to be of any use for building a space elevator on a very small asteroid. Keep weaving, boffins!

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Re: Another SF scenario in the making

Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner. A terrorist/activist attack on a bus- only one fatality, IIRC, whose head was turning when it was severed- the rest, had decaptations that just joined back up due to the thinness of the cut...

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Re: Another SF scenario in the making

"a whole new area of terror"? Because there are no other ways to kill people? Why would this (rather elaborate, awkward, and unpredictable) one be terrifying?

Hell, piano wire will serve much the same purpose, if you string it in, say, a dark hallway. No need for magic fibers. Or just walk up behind your victim and garrotte him. Or, you know, shoot the poor bastard.

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Its a shame biochemistry isnt a bit further on

I bet the most efficient way of making graphene would be through a biochemical process where proteins zip (literally) along the edge of a sheet laying down an atom at a time.

There would of course be billions of proteins zipping at the same time so the sheet could be pulled from the primordial soup at a reasonable pace. And a small mod would allow sheets to be glued!!

Please hurry - the uses for it are literally astronomical and there's no physical need for it to be catastrophically expensive - but I imagine a few marketing persons wetting themselves over the first samples.

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Headmaster

Pedantry ahoy!

This is patchwork, not a patchwork quilt. Quilts have at least 2 layers plus some downy filler (Iron Man 2, perhaps?) Graphene, by definition, has only one. Beyond that, it's graphite.

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Anonymous Coward

P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

That was a perfect piece of prose from Page on pachyderm on a pencil proof planar products

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Joke

Re: P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

Page provided perfect prose pondering performing pachyderms perched precariously on pencil proof planar products

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Re: P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

> perched precariously on

Arrrgh!

might I humbly suggest:

Page provided perfect prose pondering performing pachyderms perched precariously, providing pencil proof planar products prove purported properties.

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Pint

Re: P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

Nearly perfect ! Best I can come up with to help is the grammatically dubious but poetically plausible :

"Page provided perfect prose pondering performing pachyderms perched precariously 'pon pencil proof planar products"

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Devil

Re: P-P-P-P-P-P-P-

Why is the Chia Pet theme song going 'round in my head?

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Seems the tech equiv of magic pixy dust, I do think the first product with an iphone cover.

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I was thinking a better bulletproof vest.. If a layer the thickness of Saran Wrap would take the force of an elephant on a pencil point to penetrate, what about a thicker bunch of graphene layers. How well would it stand up to, say, a 30.06 (something I don't believe kevlar was designed to handle—IIRC stopping a rifle round usually calls for sacrificial ceramic in addition to the kevlar).

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I think the material would have to be very, very taut to stop the bullet. The material's property is that it won't tear - but it could still deform and allow a bullet to puncture the skin and cause internal injuries. Although the bullet in question would be wrapped in (untorn) graphene when it did kill you.

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Ninja silks....

Depends on what you mean by stopping. Take kevlar -- it's a fibrous material that doesn't break easily, so it holds onto the bullet, slowing it down and spreading the impact on the surface of the body. If the bullet has enough momentum, it may pierce the kevlar, but the majority of its energy is spent and it's not going to liquidise your flesh on impact.

Graphene sheets used as a kevlar replacement would be lighter and more flexible for the same amount of impact reduction. But faaaaaaaaaaaaar more expensive.

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Boffin

Re: Bullet proof vests...

@Charles,

With respect to a bullet proof anything is that while the round may not penetrate. You still have to deal with the Kinetic Energy behind the round.

Going from memory, the layers of kevlar trap the bullet and will deform as it absorbs the energy. However, teflon coated bullets were able to defeat the kevlar.

In today's vests, you have a kevlar vest (plate carrier) w a ceramic plate inside the carrier.

Even if the round doesn't penetrate the first layer of kevlar, the force of the round is spread over the mass of the plate so that instead of 800-1200 foot pounds per square inch (400 yard shot), its spread out over a larger square.

Imagine if you had a bullet proof riot shield. Someone fires a large enough round at you... you will end up getting a broken limb or a very sore shoulder from the torsion effect. But at least you will be alive.

I was thinking more of using it to skin a vehicle where you would have a lighter frame.

Or if you've looked at carbon wraps around rifle barrels... you could create a very thin walled tube, wrapped in less Graphene which would withstand more pressure. The same could go for a frame of a car, so you can reduce the weight without reducing the safety.

A very expensive car.

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Boffin

Re: Ninja silks....

The idea would be to make a composite shell using the graphene. You could then wrap it within the kevlar/nylon material to help reduce shrapnel and/or ricochets. (Imagine the vest deflecting the bullet in to your throat or face...)

You could then put a cotton pad or even a neoprene gel pack to help absorb the shock.

(Cotton goes back to ancient Japanese armor.)

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That's why 'bulletproof' vests and body armor have steel plates (trauma plates) in them.

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But we all know...

But we all know that elephants can't jump.

Oh, except... http://youtu.be/TK27aknWVI4

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Surely, though, the problem would then only become one of how to get rid of the damn stuff.

If we can make sheets of it, what if they fracture to the point that bits float around that are one-atom thick, but have this kind of strength and do not break even under enormous tension? Are we looking at a new asbestos? What kind of studies have been done on potential toxicity of this stuff if it becomes ubiquitous, airborne or into the water table?

If it's that unbreakable, how do you dispose of it (presumably some chemical process at the moment, but is that viable and going to happen everywhere it's used, or is some of it just going to end up in the local dump?). And if it's that strong, and that thin, won't that change how we look at things? I mean, a one-atom string of that stuff could be put across a motorway and start beheading motorcyclists - how do you handle such a substance safely? Or it could break diggers who get wrapped up in an invisible string of it on the dump and don't have the force to break through it - trying to cut through invisible tapes of it requiring enormous strengths is likely not to be very safe or feasible.

Maybe it's best that, at the moment, we can't really make it en masse anyway. Surely there have to be some pretty serious toxicity / practicality issues with such a substance?

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Anonymous Coward

@LeeD

> Surely, though, the problem would then only become one of how to get rid of the damn stuff.

I'm sure it will still burn. After all, if you wanted to destroy a diamond, you wouldn't try to grind it up - just bake it in an oven instead.

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