Next-gen materials represent major scientific breakthroughs in materials science. Though companies like E-Plas are already using advanced plastics in industrial applications, science marches ever onward. In laboratories across the globe, scientists are developing materials that exhibit profoundly useful properties which do not occur naturally. Decades of research are often involved in their creation, and the potential exhibited by the results is something truly extraordinary. Here are four next-gen materials which could quite literally save us all, if only from ourselves.
When stretching force is applied to an auxetic material, it reacts by growing thicker perpendicular to the direction of that force. In other words, the more force you apply, the more resistance it offers. This family of materials is expected to be viable for commercial production within the next two to three years, and its applications are many: body armor, impact-resistant vehicles, sports medicine, and even more absorbent sponges are just a few of its countless viable prospects.
Breathe Easier with Aerogels
While still a few years away from commercial production, aerogels are already being produced in laboratory settings. The easiest way to imagine what an aerogel is, is to think about hair gel, then imagine replacing the liquid portion of that substance with a gas. Instead of solids suspended in a liquid, they become suspended in nothing but air. What you wind up with is an extremely light and porous solid, which offers incredible potential for cleaning up pollutants and absorbing dangerous chemical spills.
Bring On the Biomaterials
Biomaterials are already in use to a certain degree, and the field is poised for rapid advancement due to ongoing research. Biomaterials are substances which replicate certain functions of the human body, allowing for replacement parts and potential improvements on our natural systems. Current research endeavors include the growth of replacement organs which won’t be rejected by our immune systems, along with artificial blood cells that can reduce the need for donated blood.
Super Keen for Lightweight Graphene
Graphene is pure carbon, much like a diamond. However, its atoms are arranged in hexagonal structure sheets rather than a three dimensional matrix. A sheet of graphene is literally a single atom thick: a square meter of graphene weighs less than one milligram, but is extremely strong. Graphene has applications in virtually every industry. It is lightweight, strong, durable, and becoming increasingly affordable. Its properties will allow for more durable mobile devices, greater miniaturization of technological components, more efficient gathering and transfer of solar energy, and less expensive hardware.
These materials are changing the world we live in—and the way we live in it. Advanced technologies using these materials can increase efficiency, reduce energy dependency, and take us further than we ever thought possible.