Super Materials: Building the Impossible
Houses that literally construct themselves, artificial leaves that photosynthesize fuel, wires that heal themselves when severed – things that seem to defy the laws of nature are becoming real and tangible.
They’re all part of the “super materials” revolution. We are developing the ability to engineer materials at the molecular and even the atomic level that have previously unheard of properties. And they will transform our world in ways we’re just beginning to imagine.
A universe of new applications
From nanostructures engineered for super strength and durability to hybrid substances that combine the organic with the human-made, we’re building the future one super material at a time.
Amazing applications will emerge from super materials. Researchers are already working on:
- Gel that can repair cardiac tissue after a heart attack
- Microprocessors that stretch and flex like skin
- Self-reproducing “biocement” bricks
- Bandages that produce their own painkillers
- Surfaces that mimic the antimicrobial qualities of dragonfly wings
- Self-healing wires that stretch up to 10 times their original length
- Artificial leaves that turn water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into fuel
Discovering tomorrow, one molecule at a time
The potential of advanced super materials is astonishing. Massive investments in their research and development are under way.
The European Commission created Graphene Flagship, Europe’s largest-ever research initiative, to bring graphene into the mainstream before the end of the decade.
The U.S. government has launched the Materials Genome Initiative to predict properties of millions of possible combinations of periodic table elements.
As research efforts advance, materials scientists will be able to discover, develop, and deploy advanced materials with specific desired properties and bring them to market more quickly.
What we make shapes our world
Previously, plastic freed humanity from material shortages and made life-enhancing, affordable products available to the masses. That one material fundamentally transformed our consumer behavior and culture.
Super materials will similarly reshape our world. They have the potential to make civilization safer, healthier, less wasteful, and more sustainable.