Always keeping up to date on materials technology, I’ve closely followed the buzz how a few research groups around the world have been working on a super-material that’s so many things at once.
If you think about it, carbon is great – it’s atomic mass is only 12 but it can form strong bonds and chain up to form polymers, like the many fibers or even nanotubes. Far better than iron or aluminium, that are such huge drags at weights of 56 and 27 respectively.
But what about even lighter materials? Hydrogen has a single proton for an atomic mass of 1, yet it has a freely moving electron that can do wonders.
Hydrogen polymers work by aligning the spins of the electrons so that the magnetic fields align and reinforce each other. Think like a bunch of magnets stacked north-south-north-south-etc. This both increases the density of hydrogen and creates strong hydrogen polymer chains. That makes it doubly useful – both as a material and as a way to store hydrogen.
So, you can say bye-bye to the heavy batteries made of precious and ever rarer metals – the hydrogen age is here after all!
It’s one of those things that seem so obvious in hindsight and could probably have been done decades ago already.
Think about a material as strong as carbon fiber, but one twelvth the mass!
Instant personal helicopters for everyone. Powered by the same hydrogen polymers as well, no less!
It can’t yet take very high temperatures, but room temperature has already been demonstrated in a lab at the University of Essen.
[EDIT: so this was an April fool’s joke I came up with quickly some hours after midnight when the day turned to April 1. More information at Wikipedia on molecular orbitals.]