A group of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has created a minor sensation by designing one of the strongest and lightest materials known to mankind, compressing flakes of graphene, which is for all intents and purposes two-dimensional form of carbon.

This might be the answer for products that require extremely strong but lightweight material. Some ten times higher than steel, it is only five per cent as heavy. The challenge was to carry the strength of the 2D form into 3D.

The strength, it appears, comes from the geometry and not just the material itself. “You can replace the material itself with anything,” MIT’s head of Civil and Environmental Engineering explains. “The geometry is the dominant factor.” We can now imagine anything from cars to bridges being stronger as well as much, much lighter.