Ask most people what the strongest material known to man is, and we’re 99% sure they’ll tell you it’s diamond. Well, they’d be wrong – they’re only the seventh hardest.
Extremely strong materials are currently being developed at the forefront of human scientific develop, thanks to heir ability to push the boundaries of construction, manufacturing, industry, and science itself. That’s because strong materials typically have other interesting properties – let’s find out what they are, as well as which are the strongest materials out there.
5 – Boron nitride nanotubes
Similar to the carbon nanotubes featured higher up on this list, boron nitride nanotubes single-atom sheets of boron that have been rolled into tubes. Unlike other types of nanotube, they are particularly adhesive, while being very strong – 20 higher than epoxy resin, and 30% higher than polymethylmethacrylate interface, two of the toughest, stickiest materials out there
4 – Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibre
Polyethylene is found throughout the home in plenty of plastic products, but this material is also used to make of the strongest materials known to man. When spun into incredibly long chains, the polyethylene forms a thermoplastic polymer that is incredibly tough – the highest found in any plastic – yet ultra-light. Despite being lighter than H2O, it can stop a bullet in its tracks!
3 – Palladium microalloy glass
Strong like glass but tough like metal, Palladium microalloy glass is the third toughest material known to man. If you were to test its strength using a hydraulic press, you’d find that, instead of cracking like glass, the material would deform like a metal. This is because the palladium in the structure of the glass allows the glass to form shear bands that help it deform – truly a strange and interesting property
2 – Carbon nanotubes
If you take some graphene, roll it up, and bond the two edges of the sheet together, you create a carbon nanotube. These one-dimensional materials are extremely stable, conductive, and can shield whatever they cover from electromagnetic radiation, but it’s their strength that is truly exciting. They are hundreds of times tougher than regular steel, making them one of the strongest materials on earth.
1 – Graphene
The toughest material known to man, graphene is a single hexagonal lattice of graphite (carbon) one atom thick. That’s incredibly thin, but, despite its near-transparent thickness, it also happens to be the strongest, weighing in with a tensile strength of 130,000,000,000 Pascals (compared to 400,000,000 for A36 structural steel). Alongside this, graphene is the best conductor of heat and electricity known to man too – truly a special substance with countless future applications just waiting to be developed.
What’s your favourite material? Share it, and its amazing properties, in the comments section.