University at Buffalo researchers are making significant progress on rust-proofing steel, using a graphene-based composite that could serve as a nontoxic alternative to coatings that contain hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen.

In the scientists' first experiments, pieces of steel coated with the high-tech varnish remained rust-free for only a few days when immersed continuously in saltwater, an environment that accelerates corrosion.

By adjusting the concentration and dispersion of graphene within the composite, the researchers increased to about a month the amount of time the treated steel can survive in brine.

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Also: Learn about self-cooling observed in graphene electronics .