MIT Engineers Create Breakthrough Lightweight Material That’s Stronger Than Steel

The engineering community’s quest to find stronger, yet lighter building materials that can advance structural durability in numerous applications never ends — and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has just had a breakthrough. MIT announced Feb. 2 that chemical engineers have developed a new material that is “stronger than steel and as light as plastic,” and can be mass-produced quite simply. The material, named 2DPA-1, is described as a two-dimensional polymer that assembles itself into sheets. The researchers note that this is unlike all other polymers that assemble into “spaghetti-like” chains. An MIT news release said the material could have applications in building materials or electronics as a lightweight, durable coating. Particular uses mentioned include coatings on automotive parts, cell phones, and structures like bridges. “We don’t usually think of plastics as being something that you could use to support a building, but with this material, you can enable new things,” said Michael Strano, who authored the MIT study of the new material. “It has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that.”

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