It might be a relatively new kid on the block, but graphene is already a rockstar of the material science scene, and we're starting to get a better sense of how it will shake things up beyond the lab. More sensitive microphones, tougher roads and sandals that keep your feet cool are just a few examples, and following in the footwear vein, British shoemaker inov-8 has just unveiled what it says is the first running shoe to incorporate the wonder material and promise an unprecedented degree of grip as a result.

Composed of a layer of carbon atoms linked together in a honeycomb pattern just a single atom thick, graphene is both the thinnest and strongest known material in the world. This, combined with other remarkable properties, such as great chemical stability and electrical conductivity, have seen it find use in a pretty astonishing range of applications, including everything from tougher smartphone screens to advanced kinds of batteries.

In its quest to make better shoes, inov-8 collaborated with scientists at the University of Manchester's National Graphene Institute, the research center that has previously developed graphene light bulbs, graphene water purifiers and a made host of other promising graphene-related breakthroughs. The team incorporated graphene into the rubber soles of running shoes to stop them wearing down and losing their grip.

"When added to the rubber used in inov-8's G-Series shoes, graphene imparts all its properties, including its strength," says Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, a materials scientists at The University of Manchester. "Our unique formulation makes these outsoles 50 percent stronger, 50 percent more stretchy and 50 percent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber without graphene. The graphene-enhanced rubber can flex and grip to all surfaces more effectively, without wearing down quickly, providing reliably strong, long-lasting grip."

The grippy graphene-soled shoes by inov-8 will be available some time in 2018. You can check out the (rather dramatic) promo video below.

Source: University of Manchester

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