In a time that is buzzing with technological development, new and more sophisticated materials are constantly being developed.
Researchers are creating an incredible array of materials that push the limits of what is possible. These materials are transforming products around us and have superior properties and functionalities such as strength, weight, conductivity and elasticity.
As we’re entering a new year, we want to take a look at three innovations in advanced materials that could change the future.
Shrilk – the bug-inspired “plastic” made from shrimp shells
This new material has a lot of potential applications. It provides an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic and could be used for a variety of medical procedures and medical implants.
Shrilk is cheap to produce, bio-degradable and the inspiration literally flew in the window. It is created from layers of a material, called chitin, made from discarded shrimp shells and a protein derived from silk worms called fibroin, which is as strong as aluminum but only weighs half as much. It can be elastic or rigid depending on the percentage of water added.
Shrilk is a material which is FDA-approved for use in the body. It could find a role in making medical supplies, such as sutures for hernia repair, protective coverings for burns and wounds, or scaffolds in tissue regeneration, which dissolve when they are no longer needed.
Graphene – the “miracle material” of the 21st Century
The way this material can be utilized is as surprising as its properties. Therefore it is not seen as one material, but rather as a huge range of materials with applications from military to medical sector.
With its various properties, graphene is a material that could in the future be used to make night-vision contact lenses and also would allow doctors to monitor patient’s blood flow without having to use any machines.
Graphene consists of a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, making it one of the thinnest and lightest materials available. At the same time it is the world’s strongest material; harder than diamond and 200 times stronger than steel.
Due to its flexibility it could be used for the next generation of electronic devices; Television screens and smart phones that can be rolled up like a pencil or devices that can be sewn into clothing, and pinned on bottles and cans of food.
Aerogel- the solid smoke that is not just for NASA anymore
In the future, aerogel could not only serve as a light weight replacement for plastics, it’s also flexible enough to be used in clothing for commercial use or even in space suits.
Aerogels are the world’s lightest solid and lowest-density structural materials ever developed. It usually is made of a silica gel that has been abstracted from all its liquid. It is composed of up to 99.98% air volume, but still retains its physical structure.
Aerogels have remarkable properties; it conducts heat about 1% as well as traditional glass, which makes it an insanely good insulator. It has been used from NASA spacecrafts to gas pipelines and could, in the future be used for engine compartments, rocket parts and ovens.
When used for building ultra light cars or as an insulator for homes, it would improve building efficiency and at the same time reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save fuel costs.
Did you enjoy this article?
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get more knowledge and inspiration for better, faster product development in your company.