Humans are pretty good at making things that last. Just look at the remnants of ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans, and you’ll really begin to appreciate human ingenuity. As we get better at making and using technology, our abilities are only becoming more impressive. But when it comes to pure strength, and not just durability, what tops the list? What, out of all the planet’s materials, is the strongest? Here’s a look:
1. Let’s define strength.
Labelling something as the strongest material is pointless if we don’t even know exactly what strength is a measure of. Put simply, strength is defined as how much force or pressure something can take before it breaks. So, the strongest material on the planet should be capable of withstanding a great deal of directly-applied force in order to qualify.
2. Graphene is undoubtedly the strongest - for now.
The vast majority agree that graphene is the strongest material on earth. It’s not something that’s naturally occuring, though. Graphene is made from carbon and is formed in a hexagonal lattice that is just one atom thick. This makes it, in addition to being the strongest, the thinnest material we know of.
However, there’s a relative newcomer that might knock graphene off its pedestal. Carbyne has long been theorized to be an incredibly strong material, but it had never been created in a stable form. At least, not until 2016. The reason carbyne doesn’t make the top of the list just yet is because we don’t have enough of it to really be significant. The future possibilities, however, are tantalizing.
3. As far as biological substances go, spider silk wins.
Of course, both graphene and carbyne are man-made. We’ve figured out how to manipulate atoms to create these things. What about natural substances? You might be tempted to point to diamonds as the strongest, while in reality their claim to fame is their hardness and even then they’re not the hardest material on earth. In terms of strength, spider silk is the strongest biological substance. It’s lightweight yet effective, coming in at 50 times stronger than Kevlar.