MIT creates 'impossible' new material stronger than steel but light as plastic – it could change how everything is made

MIT engineers have developed a new material that is 'stronger than steel and as light as plastic,' according to a new report.

Chemical engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created a new material that was thought to be impossible, MIT's newsroom reported on Wednesday.

The breakthrough findings were presented in the journal Nature in an article called "Irreversible synthesis of an ultrastrong two-dimensional polymeric material."

The scientists used a novel polymerization process to develop the new material, which they said in the study possesses "mechanical strength."

The strong material can self-assemble into sheets and is therefore classified as a two-dimensional polymer.

Polymers consist of any class of natural or synthetic substances composed of very large molecules (i.e. nylon, polyethylene, polyester, Teflon, wool, silk, and epoxy).

Until now, researchers had believed it was impossible for this 2D process to occur in polymers because all other classes can only form one-dimensional noodle-like chains.

According to the MIT news report, such a material could not only be used to create a robust coating for automotive parts and smartphones but as a construction material for bridges and other large structural buildings.

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“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,” Michael Strano, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and the senior author of the new study, told MIT's newsroom.

“It has very unusual properties and we’re very excited about that,” Strano added.

The scientists quickly filed two patents on the novel material, which can also be easily manufactured in large quantities.

The material could soon revolutionize the way most things are made in the future, with Strano noting that “with this advance, we have planar molecules that are going to be much easier to fashion into a very strong, but extremely thin material."

It's unclear at this time what this new polymer's environmental impact would be, although MIT has been vocal about engineering new types of plastics that could degrade quickly into the Earth.

"There is an urgent need to engineer new plastics and plastic alternatives that remain durable through their useful lifespans, then degrade swiftly and harmlessly in the environment," the university wrote on its Environmental Solutions Initiative webpage.

"The design of polymers also determines how easily they can be reused or recycled," the statement on the webpage continued.

In other news, Apple has revealed a bunch of new emojis for the iPhone, including a pregnant man and two saucy symbols.

Experts have warned that future space launches could be jeopardized if "stupid" regimes like Russia don't stop blasting the skies creating debris.

And the most popular phone since the millennium has been unveiled, with many shocked to find out it's not an iPhone

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