Tag Archive: Future


Materials science continues to develop new substances with remarkable attributes, as well as inventive new combinations of traits. Sophisticated new materials are already playing a major role in engineering, medicine, science, design and manufacturing, as well as in everyday life.

Here we highlight some new and inventive materials that are bringing science fiction closer to reality.

NeverWet Coating

Developed by Ross Nanotechnology, NeverWet is a super-hydrophobic coating capable of repelling water, heavy oils and other sticky, viscous fluids. Liquids bead and roll off surfaces coated with NeverWet, meaning that clothing and even electronics — such as cell phones and cameras — could potentially be rendered waterproof. Apart from the obvious applications for waterproofing and stain resistance, the material could also find use as an antibacterial coating, an icing repellent and as protection against corrosion.

Self-Healing Concrete

As with all construction materials, concrete eventually deteriorates over time, resulting in costly maintenance work and potentially hazardous scenarios. However, scientists at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom are now developing a type of self-healing concrete, which relies on a ground-borne bacteria – bacilli megaterium – to block the concrete’s pores. This organic substance is a crystalline form of natural calcium carbonate, which can keep out water and other damaging substances to prolong the life of concrete and reduce costs by enabling construction material to repair itself.

“The bacteria is grown on a nutrient broth of yeast, minerals and urea and is then added to the concrete. With its food source in the concrete, the bacteria breeds and spreads, acting as a filler to seal the cracks and prevent further deterioration,” according to an announcement of the project. “It is hoped the research could lead to a cost-effective cure for ‘concrete cancer’ and has enormous commercial potential.”

Aerogel

Also known as “frozen smoke,” aerogel is a powerful insulator produced through the supercritical drying of liquid gels of alumina, chromia, tin oxide or carbon. It looks transparent and can block extreme heat and cold. Materials in the aerogel category contain extraordinarily high surface areas within their internal fractal structures, with a 1-inch cube of aerogel capable of having an internal surface area equivalent to a football field. Despite its low density, aerogel is also extremely strong and is being considered as a component in military armor.

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Teleportation, sci-fi-y as it sounds, is actually not fictional or even new; two years ago, Chinese physicists broke the then-current record for quantum teleportation by teleporting photons over 10 miles. But a new effort from that same team demolishes that record, beaming the photons over 97 kilometers.

The physicists, working from the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, have again taken advantage of quantum entanglement for the purposes of moving an object from one place to another without ever moving in the space between. According to Technology Review, “The idea is not that the physical object is teleported but the information that describes it. This can then be applied to a similar object in a new location which effectively takes on the new identity.”

The task uses a 1.3-watt laser “and some fancy optics” to beam those photons and retrieve them at the final location. The trick seems to be maintaining the photons’ information, since the beam widens over space, but eventually teleportation of this sort could be used to beam information incredibly quickly up to satellites.

Source: Tech Source

Transparent Tablet Does the Twist

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Feel a little awkward interacting with humanity? Would you rather hold up transparent mobile device and filter reality through a lens that bombards you with a 3D cheat sheet?  Don’t worry, Samsung’s got you covered.

The South Korean tech company recently released a video envisioning a a shape-shifting, bendable, see-through tablet/smart phone that explores, locates and translates the world into a kaleidoscopic viewfinder of multimedia.

Besides being a veritable concierge to the world, the device would also do such old-fashioned things as make phone calls and take pictures. And because the handheld is transparent, you can avoid bumping into people or falling into fountains while text messaging.

Much ado has been paid to the device’s AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display. Active-matrix OLED displays include a thin film transistor that acts as series of electrical switches that control the flow of electricity to each pixel.

Considered to be a leader in AMOLED technology, Samsung has already demonstrated flexible AMOLED screens. And with multiple translation and ‘Aura’ apps already out there, it’s only a matter of time before Samsung’s vision of the future becomes tomorrow’s reality.

Talwar was charged by the government to investigate the drugs landscape over the next 20 years, exploring scenarios going beyond the traditional model of gangs producing and shipping drugs around the world.

He described how the world of genomic sequencing and services such as 23 and Me open up possibilities for tailoring drugs to the individual, delivering effects based on your physiology — which could apply just as effectively to narcotics as it could medicines.

He cited research from the University of California, Berkeley where neuroscientists were able to replicate images people were seeing based on the brain patterns of activity. When combined with transcranial magnetic stimulation — which has been used to inhibit brain functions such as the ability to speak or remember — it opens up the possibility of electronically delivering targeted highs.

He said: “You could also visualize the experience and then tailor the effect to what you want. This nano-bio-info-cogno convergence gets us into some very interesting spheres.”

One scenario he imagines would make use of biological proteins manufactured with information-processing technology to deliver effects that could be triggered by electromagnetic stimulation. He imagined that they could be used in a club environment where the DJ would release nanoparticles that the audience could ingest. These could then be used to trigger the desired state at a particular point during his or her set using an electrical stimulus (from a headset) into the crowd’s brains.

“The more we can understand the brain, the more we can deliver positive effects such as improved memory function. Do you want to get high? Mellow? Actually I want to live my life in my head as half-human half-cat,” he joked.

This sort of situation would mean that regulation of these “drugs” would move from trying to stop people from producing them to quality control. This sort of future could eliminate the cartels that control the drugs trade at the moment, because pharmaceutical companies might be able to corner the market and guarantee the quality of the experiences.

The principal idea is to harvest the insect’s biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device developed by engineers at the University of Michigan converts the kinetic energy from wing movements into electricity—prolonging battery life.

The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone, or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.


“Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones, and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack,” says Khalil Najafi, professor of electrical and computer engineering. “We could then send these ‘bugged’ bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go.”

In a paper published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, researchers describes several techniques to scavenge energy from wing motion and present data on measured power from beetles.

The research was funded by the Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The university is pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.

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