Vibranium is a material you can find in Captain America’s shield or in Black Panther’s suit, two Avengers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That extremely precious metal enabled Wakanda to thrive behind the curtains and to offer its inhabitants many new technologies. Such a metal is scientists and engineers’ dream.
What Is Vibranium?
Vibranium is a metal that you can discover in the universe of Marvel. It arrived on Earth when a meteorite crashed in Africa. Its status lies in its extraordinary capacities. First, it can store more energy than any other substance on Earth. It can also absorb all vibrations in its surroundings as well as its enemies’ impacts. Since vibranium absorbs all vibrations and since Black Panther wears vibranium sneakers, he does not make a sound when he walks! Useful, isn’t it? Many spies or soldiers would be interested in that kind of technology!
Its proprieties make vibranium so important that even Tony Stark studies the metal. By the way, vibranium is used in every technology proper to Wakanda. That explains why the nation is that powerful. Unfortunately for us, the kind of vibranium you see in Marvel films was imagined by the authors of Marvel comics. However, the authors probably took their inspiration from existing materials; vibranium might thus not be entirely made up!
Vibranium, or Almost
Vibranium does not exist on Earth as a natural element. That means you will not find it in the periodic table of chemical elements. One of the materials that could be the closest to vibranium is graphene, according to a professor at the University of Minnesota in the United States. Graphene is a material made of carbon atoms having a hexagonal structure. That material is extraordinary because it is one of the thinnest substances ever made! It is very flexible and hundreds of times stronger than steel!
Tungsten carbide screws
We can also talk about tungsten carbide. We use tungsten carbide to compress materials because it can store some of the compressive energy and release it later. That looks a bit like vibranium, doesn’t it?
Don’t forget about piezoelectric materials. Even if their name sounds complicated, they are not that complex. They generate electricity from vibrations. Those materials are used in the shoes that flash when you walk! Doesn’t it make you think about Black Panther’s suit that can absorb cinetic impacts before releasing them as energy explosions?
As for the U. S. army, it is not envious of superheroes. Indeed, it developed an alloy of copper and tantalum, two chemical elements. The alloy can withstand extreme impacts and temperatures. It could be used to protect military vehicles or to protect soldiers personally. According to the army, it is likely the closest material to vibranium on our planet.
So, No Vibranium on Earth ?
Well, yes, there is! Right, it is starting to be a bit confusing. In fact, vibranium, as we know it in Marvel films, does not exist. However, we have a synthetic material named ‘vibranium’ indeed! Engineers working for Elon Musk named a material ‘vibranium’. That vibranium is an alloy made of woven carbon fiber. The alloy would be eight times stronger than steel and five times lighter! It was invented when engineers were working on a new very high-speed train imagined by Elon Musk, the Hyperloop.
Men do not lack imagination, do they? Stan Lee invented vibranium, the perfect material to make the entire world dream, thanks to its astonishing proprieties. However, he must have taken his inspiration from what exists on Earth. Even though vibranium is magical, Earth is full of surprises and mysteries from which humans can draw their inspiration to imagine much more extraordinary things.
Did you know?
Elon Musk’s vibranium is ten times stronger than steel and five times lighter!