A single sheet of graphene, comprising an atom-thin lattice of carbon, may seem  rather fragile. But engineers at MIT have found that the ultrathin material is exceptionally sturdy, remaining intact under applied pressures of at least 100 bars. That’s equivalent to about 20 times the pressure produced by a typical kitchen faucet.
The key to withstanding such high pressures, the researchers found, is pairing graphene with a thin underlying support substrate that is pocked with tiny holes, or pores. The smaller the substrate’s pores, the more resilient the graphene is under high pressure.
Rohit Karnik, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says the team’s results, reported today in the journal Nano Letters  serve as a guideline for designing tough, graphene-based membranes, particularly for applications such as desalination, in which filtration membranes must withstand high-pressure flows to efficiently remove salt from seawater.
“We’re showing here that graphene has the potential to …