In 2004, when U.K. scientists created the first batch of graphene – a flexible, honeycombed lattice of graphite molecules hundreds of times more durable than steel – they probably didn’t imagine their Nobel Prize-winning wonder material debuting on a tennis court. But the first mainstream product to make use of the stronger, lighter stuff is Head’s YouTek Graphene line of tennis racquets, which use the material to reinforce the shaft, allowing designers to more precisely distribute weight throughout the entire frame. “Graphene enables more power with less effort,” says Ralf Schwenger, Head’s racket sports R&D director. The next wave of graphene-reinforced gear will come in cycling – Vittoria, the Italian bicycle tire maker is currently developing graphene-plated tires. Stronger, lighter skis, helmets, and footwear are sure to follow.
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