Researchers from MIT created a new 2D material, called 2DPA-1, which is the world's first 2D polymer. Until now, it was actually believed to be impossible to induce polymers into a 2D sheet.
To create the material, the researchers used a novel polymerization process, that was used to generate a two-dimensional sheet called a polyaramide. For the monomer building blocks of the material, they use a compound called melamine, which contains a ring of carbon and nitrogen atoms. Under the right conditions, these monomers can grow in two dimensions, forming disks. These disks stack on top of each other, held together by hydrogen bonds between the layers, which make the structure very stable and strong.
The process itself is simple, the mechanism happens spontaneously in solution, and after the material is synthesized, it can be used to create films using a simple spin-coat process ion large quantities.
The resulting material is extremely strong, tough and lightweight. The researchers found that its elastic modulus is about 4-6 times greater than bulletproof glass. They also found that its yield strength, or how much force it takes to break the material, is twice that of steel, even though the material has only about one-sixth the density of steel. 2DPA-1 is also impermeable to gases.