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baloon hull one atom thick

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:38 pm
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baloon hull one atom thick 
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Post baloon hull one atom thick   Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:38 pm
According to an article under scientists have created a balloon hull that is one atom thick only.

There is absolutely no gas leaking out - even if about Helium is talked.

The hull consists of Graphene and doesn't break aven at pressure differences of several bar.

But the volume is around one cubemicrometer only.

Might there be a chance to make extremely thin hulls of it that are much larger? May be a few atoms thick? The finding reminds me to nanocarbontubes and the huge tensile strength.

If there is a chance they might be ideal for Mars for example.

What about it?

The article refers to the team around Arend van der Zande, Cornell-University and Nano Letters, Vol. 8, page 2458 ( ).

The article also mentions that Graphene is interesting for the development of new computers because it is a conductor.

Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:01 pm
that's awesome.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:45 pm
If i remember my math for spherical pressure vessels correctly, the balloon would have to be 1.04 mm thick at .5 meter diameter in order to hold the same pressure at the same factor of safety.
As the volume of a pressurized sphere increases, the area that the internal pressure acts upon also increases, putting much more tension on the vessel walls.

NOTE: It has been over a dozen years since my last boiler and pressure vessel design class.

I don't think that they have discovered how to make a fantastically strong new material, but instead have just learned to manipulate a material on a fantastically small scale. There may be some really cool applications for this, but i don't think scaling it up to the macroscopic scale is one of them.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:41 pm
I didn't find a link for an English version of the article on that site, but here's a news report on the research on

World's Thinnest Balloon Created: Just One Atom Thick. ... 122519.htm

The original research article is available free full text:

Impermeable Atomic Membranes from Graphene Sheets
J. Scott Bunch, Scott S. Verbridge, Jonathan S. Alden, Arend M. van der Zande, Jeevak M. Parpia, Harold G. Craighead, and Paul L. McEuen*
Nano Lett., 8 (8), 2458–2462, 2008. 10.1021/nl801457b ... 1457b.html

Bob Clark

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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 09, 2008 8:01 pm
Graphene is, by definition, one atom thick. A 1mm thick layer of carbon would be graphite or diamond.

But for really high altitude balloon work, you don't want any pressure in the balloon anyway. All of the long duration high altitude flights are with zero pressure balloons, where you let the gas out as you rise, or you start with less than an envelope full of gas.

Launching a fantastically fragile balloon would be tricky, though. Inflating it in orbit and letting it settle downward might be easier. But most balloons are useful as a cheap way to get to near space from the ground, not as a way to get from space to near space.

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