In January 2017, the world's lightest mechanical chronograph watch was unveiled in Geneva, Switzerland, showcasing an innovative composite material containing graphene. Now the research behind the project has been published with the Renishaw inVia Raman microscope playing an important role in the development of the material.
The precision-engineered watch was a result of a collaboration between The University of Manchester, Richard Mille Watches and McLaren Applied Technologies. The RM 50-03 and its strap only weigh 40 grams. Its case, that houses the watch mechanism, is made from a unique composite material that incorporates graphene to give high strength but low weight.
The work was primarily carried out by a group of researchers at The University of Manchester's National Graphene Institute. The research behind this unique watch has been published in the journal, Composites Part A: Applied Science and Manufacturing. In the research, the distribution and orientation of the graphene in the composites were determined using a Renishaw inVia Raman microscope.
The collaboration was an exercise in engineering excellence, exploring the methods of correctly aligning graphene within a composite to exploit the two-dimensional material's superlative properties of mechanical stiffness and strength, whilst negating the need for the addition of other denser materials.
Professor Robert Young, who led the research, said: “In this work, through the addition of only a small amount of graphene into the matrix, the mechanical properties of a unidirectionally-reinforced carbon fibre composite have been significantly enhanced. This could have future impact on precision-engineering industries where strength, stiffness and product weight are key concerns, such as in aerospace and automotive.”