Science and engineering have taken great leaps and bounds in the past few years. We’ve made so many great achievements, discoveries and inventions. Here are 10 examples of materials created by man that could change construction techniques forever.
10. Carbon Nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes are long chains of carbon held together by the sp2 bond which is the strongest bond in chemistry. These nanotubes have many amazing physical properties. The nanotubes are capable of ballistic electron transport which makes them great for use in electronics. Carbon nanotubes also have a specifice strength 300 times greater than that of steel. This makes the them perfect for constructing towers which are hundreds of kilometers high (such as in a space elevator).
This is a generic term for a metal which can operate at temperatures of up to 2000 °F. Superalloys are very useful in the superhot turbine areas of jet engines. Jet engines can be made for more advanced oxygen-breathing designs (such as ramjet and scramjet) using superalloys. Superalloys are what will make it possible for hypersonic crafts to travel at incredible speeds one day.
8. Transparent Alumina
This form of alumina is three times stronger than steel and as an added bonus, it’s transparent. This material has a large number of applications in a wide range of fields. The skylines of the future could look a lot clearer with transparent skyscrapers allowing the sunlight to pass to the streets below and an entire space station could come into low orbit without driving people mad. The possibilities are endless.
Metamaterials are materials that gain their properties from structure rather than composition. These materials have amazing optical properties and have made it possible to create invisibility cloaks and superlenses which can resolve features smaller than the wavelength of light (due to their negative refractive index). These materials could even be used in phased array optics, allowing perfect holograms to be created on a two-dimensional screen.
6. Bulk Diamond
Laying down thick layers of diamond in a CVD machine (Chemical Vapor Decomposition) will make a future of bulk diamond machinery a reality. Diamond is ideal as a construction material because of its strength, lightweight, almost complete thermal conductivity and melting and boiling points which are the highest of any almost any material in the world. Fine-tuned diamond machinery gives us the possibility of making jets of the future more powerful than any modern day fighter jet.
5. Bulk Fullerenes
Diamond nanorods (or amorphous fullerenes) are stronger than diamonds. The nanoscale structure of the fullerene gives it an iridescent appearance. Fullerenes can be made stronger than diamond, but at a greater cost. After the ‘Diamond Age’, with the advancement of technology, we may enter a ‘Fullerene Age’.
4. Amorphous Material
Amorphous materials are also called metallic glass and are basically metals with a disordered atomic structure. They can be twice as strong as steel and because of their disordered structure, they are more effective in dispersing impact energy than regular metal which has points of weakness due to its crystal structure. These metals are made by instantly cooling the molten form before the atoms arrange themselves into a crystal structure. Amorphous materials have many uses including in military armor and power transmission.
3. Metal Foam
Metal foam is formed when a foaming agent (such as powdered titanium hydride) is added to molten aluminium before it is allowed to cool. The result is a strong but light metal with 75-95% empty space. Because of these properties, metal foams can be used in the future to construct space colonies. Some metal foams can even float on water, which will allow for even more possible applications.
The possibilities of electronic textiles are limitless. The future of clothing and tech gadgets can merge into one and allow users to wear their gadgets instead of carry them around. People could play their favorite videos on their shirts, a robe that displays a live feed of the night sky could also be possible. Talking to loved ones could become even simpler with thought-to-speech interfaces which turn the user’s thoughts into sound.
Sometimes called frozen smoke, aerogel holds fifteen records in the Guinness Book of World Records (which is more than any other material). Aerogel is made by supercritical cooling of liquid gels of alumina, chromia, tin oxide, or carbon. The material is 99.8% empty space which makes it look semi-transparent. The material is a fantastic insulator and stops heat from flowing (even protection from a flamethrower is possible). A small amount of aerogel could even support a brick, meaning that the material has considerable strength.