Innovation in every fibre

It is the thinnest, strongest, most conductive material ever obtained and set to disrupt a range of industries. Now Saab is exploring whether Graphene can be used in camouflage.

Graphene is the world's first 2D material and since it was obtained in 2004 it has captured the imagination of scientists and engineers across the globe.

It is ultra-light measuring a million times thinner than a human hair, yet immensely tough: 200 times stronger than steel. At the same time it is incredibly flexible, impermeable to molecules and a superb conductor, allowing electrons to flow faster than silicon. The material also has the added benefit of being relatively low-cost.

Used alone or combined with other materials, Graphene can help create new products and foster new, disruptive technologies – including in defence and security.

One area we are looking at applying Graphene is in signature management – the art of detection avoidance. Graphene, in combination with other natural substances, could be used to actively change the shape and topology of all manner of surfaces, including ships, aircrafts even military uniforms.

In 2014, project funding from Vinnova – Sweden's Innovation Agency – was awarded to investigate the possibility of using graphene in camouflage material.

The research project, which is carried out on behalf of Saab with partners including Linköping University, has the aim of creating a graphene composite material with camouflage qualities. Initial tests have begun to apply graphene to the right kind of "media" and the end focus is on using techniques and methods suitable for full scale production, enhancing signature management and protecting troops and assets around the world.