Graphene stronger than kevlar when blasted with Mach 9 microbullets

Here's another new use for graphene (that will probably never happen): stopping bullets. University of Massachusetts-Amhers researchers have found that everybody's favorite potential wonder-material vastly outperforms steel and even kevlar armor. Testing the ultra-lightweight, 1-atom thick carbon sheets has proved tricky in the past, as they disintegrated on contact with regular bullets. So, the team used laser pulses to fire micron-sized glass bullets into the sheets at around 6,700 mph, about three times the speed of an M16 bullet (see below). Sheets from 30 to 300 layers thick absorbed the impacts much better than the other materials by deforming into a cone shape, then cracking.

But -- and there's always a but with graphene -- such sheets are currently too brittle to make into a solid material. The answer might be to stitch graphene flakes together, then vary the orientation to prevent cracking. Whatever, please just let us know us when you actually turn this material into a damn product.

[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]