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Chinese scientists develop new graphene material to make fuel-free spacecraft possible

(People's Daily Online)    09:47, June 24, 2015
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A special kind of graphene has been developed by Chen Yongsheng and Tian Jianguo, two professors from Nanjing University, and their research team. Under exposure to light, the material can produce a driving force a thousand times stronger than traditional light pressure, creating the possibility of a fuel-free spacecraft.

Spacecraft will play an important role in mankind's future exploration of the universe. But constrained by the limits of existing power sources, mankind won't get very far. Almost all spacecraft and aircraft are powered by chemical fuels. It is a dream but also a serious challenge to develop a spacecraft that runs on light.

As far as they are aware, this is the first time that a macroscopic object has been driven by light, said Chen Yongsheng. He added that theoretically a graphene-made drive propelling a 500 kilogram load could achieve an acceleration speed of 0.09 meter per second.

According to the research team, exposure to light causes the material to emit a number of electrons, thus producing a driving force which is significantly different from the propellant of a rocket powered by chemical fuel.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Zhang Yuan,Gao Yinan)

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