A breakthrough on paper that's stronger than steel

A graphene paper sample. Picture by Lisa Aloisio

A graphene paper sample. Picture by Lisa Aloisio

In summary: 
  • A UTS research team has developed methods to improve the mechanical properties of graphene, a carbon-based material  that can be made as thin as paper and ten times stronger than steel
  • The UTS work is a step forward in the development of a material that has the potential to revolutionise the automotive, aviation, electrical and optical industries

UTS Scientists have reported remarkable results in developing a composite material based on graphite that is as thin as paper and ten times stronger than steel.

Based on preliminary research done at the University of Wollongong, a UTS research team supervised by Professor Guoxiu Wang has reported reproducible test results and developed nanostructural samples of graphene paper which has improved mechanical properties.

Graphene paper has the potential to revolutionise the automotive, aviation, electrical and optical industries.

Graphene paper (GP) is a material that can be processed, reshaped and reformed from its original raw material state - graphite. Researchers at UTS have successfully milled the raw graphite by purifying and filtering it with chemicals to reshape and reform it into nano-structured configurations which are then processed into sheets as thin as paper.

These graphene nanosheet stacks consist of monolayer hexagonal carbon lattices and are placed in perfectly arranged laminar structures which give them exceptional thermal, electrical and mechanical properties.

Using a synthesis method and heat treatment, the UTS research team has produced material that exhibits improved mechanical properties over existing GP, including better bending, rigidity and hardness. Compared to steel, the prepared GP is six times lighter, five to six times lower density, two times harder with 10 times higher tensile strength and 13 times higher bending rigidity.

Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh. Picture by Lisa AloisioAli Reza Ranjbartoreh. Picture by Lisa Aloisio

Researcher Ali Reza Ranjbartoreh said, "The exceptional mechanical properties of synthesised GP render it a promising material for commercial and engineering applications.

"Not only is it lighter, stronger, harder and more flexible than steel it is also a recyclable and sustainable manufacturable product that is eco-friendly and cost effective in its use."

Mr Ranjbartoreh said the results promise great benefits for the use of graphene paper in the automotive and aviation industries, allowing the development of lighter and stronger cars and planes that use less fuel, generate less pollution, are cheaper to run and ecologically sustainable.

He said large aerospace companies such as Boeing have already started to replace metals with carbon fibres and carbon-based materials, and graphene paper with its incomparable mechanical properties would be the next material for them to explore.

The production of GP from graphite also provides a remarkable amount of added value for the mining, material processing and manufacturing industries in Australia. In the last decade, metals have increasingly and rapidly been replaced with carbon-based materials.

Australian mines have immense graphite resources making the new material a favourable option to industry as an economical, home-grown and world-class technological advancement for mass production and industrial application.

The findings of the UTS research group have been published in the article "Advanced mechanical properties of graphene paper" in the Journal of Applied Physics.

Great Achievement
Its good for any vihicle
its Major invention for Construction, Weapon, Durables, and shipping industry

I'm curious, how does it handle temperature extremes? Can it be reformed/reshaped/weaved into a tube/rope shapes? How cumbersome is the mfg process? Could it be done in zero g?

@ Kent Space Elevator ?

Can anyone tell me what company is financially backing this research? I would like to evest in their stock.

i am interested to buy the graphene paper .i have a big companie in venezuela of vehiculos blindag
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Afarin Ali Reza! Well done team :) And it's ecologically sustainable to boot!

It's possible uses are beyond imagination

I agree with Bonnie Perry,
I want to know who is going to be investing in / selling this, and who I need to invest in!

Has any testing been done for the materials electrical properties such as insulative or conductive

How would users in the automotive ---and airplane--- industry attenuate its combustability, to render it competitave with metals in this regard?

With the materials advertised strength how would it behave in a high stress and heat environment such as wheel and internal engine bearing surfaces?

What would the price be for a sedan using that stuff., Surely a littke bit thicker than a sheet?
Keep us informed.

Thanks for your interest in this work. For those who have asked questions, the head of the research team is overseas at the moment. We'll ask him to respond as soon as possible.

Excellent, my compliments. I work in mechanical engineering, particularly in new pumping systems, and this new material could solve many problems.
My best regards.
Maurizio Arabia


@Wilfred and Bonnie Perry:
A little search on internet gives:

Financial support from the Australian Research CouncilARCthrough the ARC Linkage Project No. LP0775109and ARC discovery projectDP0772999is gratefully ac-knowledged.

Direct bennefitting companies are in Australia, Grafite mining Co.'s.

Greetings & Luck 4 all folks who want 2 make a difference.

This is very good development. Its application will change the feature, although depend upon techno commercial value.

How does that strength compare to, for instance, spider web or silk? Could you weave a cable from it, and, if so, could that support the space elevator?

Why is the term "Paper" being used in the name of this discovery?

when one mentions paper, the thought of "stronger than steel" if far from the first thing that comes to mind.

just curious.

When the costs are not 10 times as high as glass fibre reinforced plastic this could be an excellent material for the production of very large windturbine blades and of very high and stiff wind turbine towers.

excellent discovery....go...go...

congratulation on you new invention
First thing come to my mind pipes for solar hot water it would be light and if it is black it would get hot in the sunlight

Wonder if this material could be used in protective clothing.

Sounds interesting.

is it washable, could you use it to make clothing. I am thinking superman underpants ???

exciting breakthrough, it would change the steel industry and relevant manufacture industry!

kindly pls keep me informed!

exciting breakthrough, it would change the steel industry and relevant manufacture industry!

kindly pls keep me informed!

Oh dear :) @Steve

Our graphene paper reveals remarkable thermal stability
As you know after diamond (~4200 K) graphite has the second highest melting temp (~3500 K), our graphene papers possess even higher thermal stability than graphite as graphene lattice has been placed in perfectly arranged laminar structures; temperature services (operational temperature which material works without any physical modification)up to 850°C has been experienced for our graphene papers.

Graphene paper can be formed to all practical shapes (e.g., cylindrical, rope, ring, etc.) it is highly formable and manufacturable; we can fabricate our graphene papers in various thicknesses, and surface areas. We didn’t try our synthesize process in zero g, but there shouldn’t be any obstruction in zero g condition. Accurate controlling devices employed in our process are gravity-independent.

Production cost and benefits for users

We have achieved great successes in our research collaborations to reduce the production cost of graphene paper and make it more feasible for engineering (industrial) applications.

Superior Strength an low density of graphene papers to metals facilitate the production of lighter cars and planes, which means less fuel consumption and longer trips, means less expensive transportation and means less pollutions.

Electrical properties and measurements

We have successfully employed graphene papers as basic element in Lithium ion batteries (batteries which have been used in Laptops, electrical vehicles, etc.), we have performed various electrical experiences about electrical conductivity, charge carrier capacity, cyclability of graphene paper based batteries.

Dear Ali Reza,

This is a great achievement no doubt. A gentleman Vipol Pandiya made a comment here about its thermal conductivity - would this be a problem when used in the automobiles body? He mentioned heat dissipation - how does it compare to sheet steel or aluminium?
Also the most important element which can decide how popular will be its use will be cost of production. How does your technology production cost compare to steel and aluminium?
I would be grateful for your response.
We are an auto component company and very interested in lowering fuel consumption.

Can it also be 3D shapable (soon)? Or would it damage the hexagonal lattices? Thank you.

Incredible material properties. Where can I get some samples to test ? I have an application that can use the material.

Perhaps you agree with me that R &D section of industry should come forward and make industrial linkage with our research group and university to expedite our progression toward further reduction of graphene papers cost. We take first and second steps (material fabrication and proving its spectacular properties and potential applications) now it’s time for industrial support to boost the progression of this ongoing project.
And about heat dissipation
Uncontrollable heat dissipation could be happened in amorphous graphite, but “The acoustic and thermal properties of graphite are highly anisotropic, since phonons propagate very quickly along the tightly-bound planes, but are slower to travel from one plane to another”.
Which means you can have heat insulation and heat conduction in different direction (XY and Z), especially in graphene paper with well arranged graphene lattices.

First, 3 years ago, the Royal Paper Institute in Sweden announced very strong paper, roughly as strong as cast iron. Second, a separate announcement was made about non-flammable paper.
Third, the world is waiting for you to buy a big plot of land in Sumatra, figure out how to laminate your GP with Lexan, and build the long-theorized space elevator.

Dear Mr.Ali Ranjbartoreh,

you and your team's invention will be of great significance, if it can be produced industrialized,that would chang the manufacturing field and even more field revolutionarily , it is really a great achievement!

we are first class national Engineering and research corporation in P.R.China which has more than 1500 engineers with different speciallities. we are keen to contact you and your team to discuss the possibility of co-operation with any mode.

if you could tell me your emai address, mobile phone that will be our great honor and we are cordially hope to keep in touch with you and your team.

looking forward to your reply and with my best regards

Yao Yixian Tel 0086 13853202636


I very much would like to make some donations to your research. Why hasn't Intel or other chip mfg picked up on this stuff? Intel has said that silicon is still the choice for the next 15-20 years. This upsets me greatly!!

Would this material be useful to manufacture light weight body armor for soldiers and police departments?

Could it provide a light weight outer shield to protect armored military vehicles from Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attacks?

Can this material handle the 1,650 deg. C temperature of space vehicles' atmospheric entry from orbit? (source: htttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_thermal_protection_system)

Results of indentation test gave me a hint that graphene paper should be suitable for bulletproof items (e.g., bullet proof vest); based on impact mechanics and molecular dynamics simulation, I have considered the penetration of conical and spherical indenters; results of the investigation has been presented in my recent accepted (under publication) paper in Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. I described that laminar graphene sheets in graphene paper dump the concentrated force of indentation consecutively; they resist against further penetration of indenter one after another and hinder its advance. However; practical tests should be performed to prove its potentials applications in bulletproof items, armoured vehicles, etc. which needs collaboration defence and police departments.

good work!

I would especially like to see this technology being used to help build lighter freight ships that can then make more use of sails and wind-power to transport goods. It might even have a role in the creation of large but strong sails.


So many applications for this material.
I want to see it being used in bicycle frames and components.

Of course, emerging technology breakthroughs such as this may never come to fruition if totalitarianism/communism/atheism continues to take hold of governments.

For many of our company products (aircraft leading edges, fuselage sections and LG Doors), we are also looking for high toughness materials. What about Graphene on this aspect?

Fracture toughness (Kc) could be more indicative for those engineering design calculations. However, based on stress-strain curves from various samples with different heat treatment procedures, I found relatively high toughness for graphene paper (much higher than Steel but not as high as that of Gold). However, I should perform Charpy impact test to answer your question more precisely.

Are these the people who got a Nobel prize for this material? This is an exceptional material.
I will ask the New York Times to spread these extraordinary developments.

I am interested in promoting your product within the motor and mining industry within South Africa.
Do you have an agent here in South Africa.


is it real that it is more stronger than steel? How can you prove it?

when did ypu do that coz' it's really interesting and i have an assignment base on that.... thanks buddy!