Dunlop Max 200G tennis racket, 1984.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This tennis racket is made from carbon fibre in nylon reinforced plastic. Carbon fibres were first manufactured in the 1960s, by heating acrylic fibres to high temperatures. The resulting filaments of pure carbon graphite are extremely strong and stiff because of the alignment of their crystalline structure. This makes carbon fibre highly suitable for use in the manufacture of aircraft wings and fuselages, specialist engineering and sports equipment, and in jet engines and rockets, where strength at high temperatures is required. The use of carbon fibre to produce lighter, stronger equipment enabling players to generate more power in their shots has revolutionised racket sports since the mid 1980s.