Do you want to know the top ten amazing materials?
Of course you do. There are so many incredible materials in the world, it was a tough call to only choose ten, but here you go, I hope you like them.
10 - D30 Impact Protection – This amazingly clever material is a substance used in impact protection. Now used in phone cases, body protection and electronics, this material is made up of D30 molecules. The material in it’s raw state is soft and flexible, much like ‘Play-doh’ to touch; however on receipt of shock, the molecules lock together to absorb energy and disperse energy to provide protection before returning to it’s flexible state.
9 - Fungal Foam - Environmentally friendly and cost effective. This foam is made from agricultural crop waste- plant stalks, rice and wheat husks, which are then bonded together with mushroom roots. The company is now developing this material to be an alternative to petroleum-based plastic foams which though convenient, threaten the environment
8 - Sweating Rooftops – Now, I know that this doesn’t sound extremely appealing but give it a chance. This new material from researchers at ETH-Zurich is really rather genius. Much like humans sweat to shed excess heat, this rooftop material absorbs water when it rains and only releases it when the temperature is raised to a certain point. Thus, keeping the house cool.
7 - Graphene – This is a remarkably strong material, in fact, it is about 100 times stronger than steel. In it’s pure form, pure carbon, one atom thick Graphene is an almost transparent sheet. It conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency.
6 - Gallium – Discovered by Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875, Gallium is used in industry every day. Though Gallium does not exist in a pure form in nature, scientists have found a way to extract it from Bauxite and Zinc ores. The product, Gallium (III) is a soft; silvery metal which when held on the palm begins to liquify in 5-7 minutes. (Pretty cool yeah?) Well, this amazing metal is used in a variety of ways every day such as, thermometers, mirrors, and solar devices.
5 - SilIca Aerogel – This is the lightest solid in the world, with a composition of 99.8% carbon dioxide and 0.2% silica gel. Aerogel is the best thermal insulator available with a melting point of 1200 degrees Celsius. Due to its impressive properties, aerogels have many uses from thermal clothing to spacecraft. The Glenn team is currently working on a NASA project called the Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (HIAD). The HIAD is an inflatable vehicle, which is stowed inside the launch vehicle. Prior the entering the atmosphere the HIAD is inflated; this helps the spacecraft slow down and land safely on it’s destined location, which has an atmosphere. Covered by a thermal protection system, aerogels are used as an insulator.
4 - Self-Healing Concrete – This may sound like something out of a Sci-fi film, but self-healing concrete is a huge breakthrough in structural damage. Repairing cracks in concrete structures is time consuming and costly but necessary. Researchers have come up with a solution that involves creating a concrete mix that contains bacteria in microcapsules. When in contact with water, the bacteria will germinate, producing limestone as they go, thus sealing the crack before any damage to the structure can occur! (Amazing right?)
3 - Hydrophobic Metal – Scientists have developed a metal, which causes water to bounce off it. (as if by magic) Unlike chemical coatings like Teflon, etching microscopic structures into metal with the help of lasers creates this surface. This development is amazing, yet just to pattern a 1x1inch of this can take up to an hour, so don’t expect to see it in any consumer products any time soon.
2 - Metal Foam – This is the substance you get when you add foaming agents and powdered titanium hydride to molten aluminum and then let it cool down. This is an incredibly strong material, which is also extremely light, making it a favorable substance with 75-95% empty space. It has been suggested that this material could be used to make space colonies and floating cities. (How very futuristic!)
Still reading? I hope so, because I’ve saved the best until last!
1 - (Drum roll please) E-Skin – Imagine a world where your health can be monitored, constantly and discreetly throughout your average day. A health monitor that continuously checks your blood pressure, pulse, monitors your sleep pattern and stress levels. A thin layer of electronic skin which then uploads the information to your smartphone and allows you to track your wellbeing. Well, with E-skin, this doesn’t have to be imagined. This amazing material (and well deserved of the top spot) has been designed for multiple uses. We could see wallpapers doubling as touchscreen displays and dashboards, which allow drivers to adjust electronics with the wave of the hand.