Whenever we create new materials that push the limits of what’s possible, we send the world down an entirely new path. We are on the verge of a revolution in materials science: super materials that will eclipse what we once believed were physical limits, create previously unimaginable opportunities, and expand the capabilities of what we already think of as exponential technologies in ways limited only by our imaginations.
The materials of the future are already being made in the present.
- Biomaterials will allow us to build robotic structures out of engineered materials that mimic organic ones. Soft materials that can be activated by an electric field will give us a whole new take on the human/machine interface. The next generation of prosthetics, for example, will be more comfortable, more functional, and harder to distinguish from living flesh
- Nanomaterials artificially engineered at molecular scale are giving rise to cotton-blend fabric that kills bacteria or conducts electricity, a coating that makes objects so frictionless they give no tactile feedback, and ceramics that bounce back from extreme pressure.
- Recyclable carbon fiber composites that can be turned back into liquid form and remolded will replace the current versions that can only go into landfills when they’re broken.
- Ultra-thin silicon circuits will lead to high-performance medical instruments that can be not just worn, but implanted or swallowed.
- Flexible solar cells will replace large, unwieldy solar panels with thin film that can go almost anywhere and be incorporated into almost anything, from windows to tents to clothing.
- Rechargeable metal-air batteries that can store electricity in grid-scale amounts will bring plentiful low-cost, reliable energy to places that currently have unreliable or no access to the traditional power grid.
- Metamaterials, synthetic composites designed at the inter-atomic level, will have properties not found in nature.
More developments are on their way and advanced materials become fundamental building blocks for the future that can create new objects with high-performance computing and internal energy source. A driving force for exponential technologies bringing us ever-closer to a world of ambient intelligence.