Graphene is a single-atomic-layer material with excellent mechanical properties and has the potential to enhance the strength of composites. Its two-dimensional geometry, high intrinsic strength and modulus can effectively constrain dislocation motion, resulting in the significant strengthening of metals. Here we demonstrate a new material design in the form of a nanolayered composite consisting of alternating layers of metal (copper or nickel) and monolayer graphene that has ultra-high strengths of 1.5 and 4.0 GPa for copper–graphene with 70-nm repeat layer spacing and nickel–graphene with 100-nm repeat layer spacing, respectively. The ultra-high strengths of these metal–graphene nanolayered structures indicate the effectiveness of graphene in blocking dislocation propagation across the metal–graphene interface. Ex situ and in situ transmission electron microscopy compression tests and molecular dynamics simulations confirm a build-up of dislocations at the graphene interface.
metal-Graphene; transmission electron microscopy; molecular dynamics simulations; dislocation