Weaving together – inspiration for materials of the future
It’s great to be working at a time when there are so many innovative applications of interesting materials. At Diametric, we’re in the business of precision and we want to reflect that throughout our work, and we’re constantly looking for new and exciting ways to develop both our expertise and the materials that we use.
Pushing the boundaries is key for any industry but that’s especially true when materials form the core of your business. There’s nothing wrong with keeping focus on your ‘in house’ innovation but there’s a lot to be said for looking beyond your industry to keep ahead. When a new material is developed in one area – whether it’s the latest medical breakthrough or a marine conservation product – there are always others looking at how that could be adapted for their own area. Sometimes the simple biological make-up of an insect or animal could spark a train of thought, or traditional techniques are combined with modern substances to create something truly startling.
With all this in mind, here our five favourite examples of the inspiration in material innovation:
Brilliant bio – back in 2014, Harvard researchers pioneered a ‘fully degradable’ bio plastic made from shrimp shells that could be used for everything from food wrapping to sew up wounds. New applications of bio inspired plastics have popped up including lemon based polycarbonates that could become your new phone cover.
Creative construction – when it comes to building properties, both residential and commercial, there is a lot to consider. Environmental concerns sit alongside the need for affordable spaces for people to live and work. It’s no wonder it’s an industry where innovative materials are key. There are lots of good examples, but I like the idea of bamboo concrete because the resilience of the traditional plant combined with a modern resin.
Great graphene – this ultra strong and super light material rivals carbon fibre and its use is increasing all the time. Over the last 10 years its use has varied from solar panels harnessing rainwater for electricity to virtually unbreakable recyclable paper. As we move forward there are examples of where it could be use for communicating data or electronic tattoos
Helping hydrogen– affordable hydrogen fuel cell technology is the Holy Grail for the automotive industry and it’s getting a helping hand from ultrathin materials – recently chemists at a Sydney University created cheap non precious metal catalysts that split water, aiding the efficient production of hydrogen fuel cells.
Everyday electrodes – smart technology and electric cars are already impressive – but a new 2D material called MXene is likely to their power to the next level. A US university research team have altered the design of electrodes using the MXene, meaning that your smartphone could charge in a (camera) flash.
As we move into the next era of material development driven by advanced technology, we look forward to what might be next, both within precision manufacturing and other industries. We’re always interested in new ideas and new applications of materials, so if you’ve got anything to share we’d love to hear from you.