9 Futuristic Materials

9 Futuristic Materials

In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — ever seen
it? Came out in 1986? The crew of the original Enterprise go back
in time? To … 1986? Anyway, there’s a scene where chief engineer
Scotty describes a lighter, sturdier, futuristic alternative to plexiglass: transparent aluminum. This stuff is supposed to be so strong that
it makes up the viewports of the Enterprise. The coolest part though, is that this stuff
is not just science fiction! Transparent aluminum actually exists, and
it pretty much lives up to Scotty’s hype. And it’s just one of many cool new materials
that seem like they were plucked straight out of science fiction. From invisibility cloaks to self-repairing
concrete, the future is now. [Music Playing] Aerogels are one of the lightest solid materials
in the world. Gels are mostly liquid, but they act like
solids because there’s a bunch of molecules in them that link together and hold the liquid
in place. Aerogels are gels where all the liquid has
been replaced with gas. Imagine taking your favorite gelatin dessert
and sucking out all the water. But instead of crumbling into a powder, it still keeps
its dome-like shape. That’s basically how scientists create aerogels: First, they make a gel out of something like
silicon or carbon compounds. Then, they use extremely high temperatures
and pressures to blur the line between the liquid and gas phases, creating a supercritical
fluid. Then the kinda-liquid-kinda-gas can drift
out of the solid molecular structure, and be replaced by air, so you have a porous,
lightweight material that retains its shape. Aerogels are great for insulation, because
the air inside doesn’t transfer heat very well. So they’re mostly being used in spacesuit
and spacecraft linings. Plus, they’re almost transparent, which
means we could use aerogels to insulate windows here on Earth… when they get cheaper. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, chances are
you’ve wanted your own invisibility cloak. But instead of using magic to make things
invisible, muggle researchers need to experiment with light. We don’t have large-scale invisibility cloak
technology yet, but scientists are working on a lot of different ideas, like creating
flexible sheets of liquid metal that can block radio waves used in radar. And we’re getting closer. In 2015, scientists designed a very, very
thin material, like, 80 nanometers thin, that could hide equally tiny objects. In order for us to see an object, light has
to bounce off of it. And any distortions of that light reveal its shape and features. This invisibility cloak uses teeny-tiny brick-shaped
gold antennas to counteract that natural light distortion. So when this cloak is wrapped around an object,
any light bouncing off of it looks like it’s coming from a perfectly flat mirror, hiding
the fact that the cloak and object are even there. And theoretically, you could adjust the gold
antennas to make the reflected light look like any object or background. This technology only exists at a microscopic
level right now, so scientists need to figure out how to scale up the idea before we can
make larger objects, like people, invisible. So we can’t quite make objects invisible,
but what about super waterproof, or superhydrophobic, materials? I’m talking way more waterproof than your
average raincoat. Scientists are trying to find ways to mimic
the waterproof surfaces found in nature, like the lotus leaf or certain butterfly wings. And it turns out that microscopically rough
surfaces tend to be more hydrophobic, because they can trap pockets of air and minimize
the interaction between water droplets and the surface of the material. So scientists can make coatings that have
things like aluminum oxide nanoparticles in them, to make surfaces rougher and repel water. Another idea is to make surfaces that are
covered in itty bitty ridges or polymer cones, that are just tens of nanometers in size,
thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. These materials are so waterproof that water
droplets actually appear to bounce off of them, and even split into smaller pieces! By putting this stuff on electronics and medical
devices, we can protect them from water damage, but these materials may also be someday used
to keep ice from forming on cars, or algae growing on ships. Carbon is… amazing. Like, the-basis-of-all-life-as-we-know-it amazing. We’ve talked before about how awesome some carbon-based materials are, like graphene. But we can use what we know about carbon to
make a material even harder than diamonds. Aggregated diamond nanorods, or hyperdiamonds,
if you wanna sound cool, these are the hardest, most dense, and least compressible material
we know of. Diamonds are hard because of their molecular
structure, each carbon atom forms four covalent bonds with the atoms around it, which forms
an exceptionally hard crystal structure. In hyperdiamonds, that’s still true, but
it’s a different, more wear-resistant form of diamond. This material is made up of many tiny, interlocked
diamond crystals rather than one single structure. They can be made in the lab by applying extreme
heat and pressure to graphite. Diamonds are frequently used for industrial
jobs like grinding and polishing, because they’re so tough. But hyperdiamonds could be even more useful
than regular diamonds, because they’re even more resistant to the temperature and pressure
changes that can wear diamonds down over time. Now, when can metal also be glass? Well, when engineers invent … metallic glass,
also known as amorphous metal. Most metals have a crystalline structure,
the atoms are ordered into a specific, repeated pattern that makes it stiff. But glass has a random arrangement of atoms,
which makes it more brittle. So, metallic glasses form when metal atoms
are in this random arrangement, like when melted metal is cooled really, really quickly,
before its particles can arrange themselves into a crystal. This material has the best of both worlds,
the malleability of molten glass combined with even more strength than crystalline metal. This combination of high strength and low
stiffness makes it really resilient, it can store and release elastic energy better than
other forms of metal, which means it doesn’t deform as easily. Right now metallic glasses are being used
as coatings to make objects more corrosion or wear-resistant, or to make products like
golf club heads. But eventually the material could be used
to easily manufacture things where strength and weight are concerns, like lighter, stronger
car parts. But glass isn’t the only hot new metal material. Metallic foams are made up of a metal, like
aluminum, and a whole bunch of gas-filled pores. This makes them super light, plus they keep
many of the original properties of their metal, like being strong, fire resistant, and conducting
electricity. Metallic foams can be made a few different
ways, like by injecting gas into a liquid metal, or by causing the precipitation of
gas that’s already dissolved in a metal mixture. And some are open-pored, meaning that the
gas pores inside are all interconnected, creating what are sometimes called metal sponges. But in closed-pored metal foams, the little
bubbles are all separated, which means they can float in water, which could be helpful
for building sturdier, lighter boats and spacecraft that can make water landings. In general, metal foams are useful for high-tech
shock and impact absorbers, the gas inside makes them extremely compressible, so they
can absorb a lot of mechanical energy, while still retaining some of the strength and durability
of a metal. This means they also have a lot of potential
for building different car components that are light and sturdy. Some metals also have unique new uses, like
aluminum. In Star Trek IV, it’s called transparent
aluminum, but that’s kind of inaccurate. The material our scientists are manufacturing
is really aluminum oxynitride and it’s composed of aluminum, oxygen, and nitrogen. It’s a ceramic, which means the material
starts as a powder, and is then heated up until it melts, and then cooled into a crystalline
structure similar to glass. It’s basically transparent, and extremely
strong, nearly as hard as sapphire, so aluminum oxynitride is really useful for things ranging
from bulletproof windows to super-durable camera lenses. It’s still expensive to make, but hopefully
we’ll find ways to make it more efficient by the time we get around to building starships! Concrete! I’m sure you’re
familiar with it. Just today, you’ve probably walked on it, or sat on it — in
fact, it’s probably all around you right now! But as materials go, it’s not very… cozy. The invention of light-transmitting concrete
hopes to change that, by interspersing very thin layers of concrete with optical fibers. This means light can be transmitted from
one end of a concrete block to the other. The translucent concrete maintains most of
its strength, so it can still be used for heavy duty projects, like constructing buildings
or roadways, or it can be used in otherwise difficult-to-light areas, like subway tunnels
and walkways. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a way to
pour this stuff out on-site like traditional concrete, which means it’s not really practical
yet, mostly it’s used in art installations or very small areas. But with some more research, fancy glowing
sidewalks may become the new normal. Now, what if we could increase the lifespan
of concrete that’s already been poured? Enter: self-healing concrete. Invented by scientists in the Netherlands,
the basic concept is to combine engineering with microbiology, and embed bacteria that
can create limestone directly in the concrete. During normal seasonal changes, concrete shrinks
and expands and eventually cracks. Then water can seep in, causing even more
damage. But self-repairing concrete, contains biodegradable
capsules that are full of bacteria and their food source, in this case, calcium lactate. The bacteria lie dormant until the water seeping
in dissolves the capsules and sets them to work, eating and multiplying and producing
calcite, or limestone, from the calcium lactate, which fills in the cracks. These bacteria can survive up to 200 years
if there’s enough nutrition embedded in the concrete. Currently, the bacteria can only heal very
small cracks, but eventually this technology could fill larger breaks, which could be huge
for fixing roads and building more durable buildings, without hands-on construction time! So, scientists are developing all kinds of
new materials with incredible properties and weird new uses. Soon we’ll be building the future with all
these technologies, and more. Someday, Scotty will have been proven right! Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow,
brought to you by our patrons on Patreon. If you want to help support this show, just
go to patreon.com/scishow. And don’t forget to go to youtube.com/scishow and subscribe!


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    Krekker Recer

    Couldn't we put two mirrors next to eachother than put a one way mirror infront of it to make an invisibility cloak?

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    Honestly….I don't want invisibility tech to become a thing. The military applications of that are *terrifying*.

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    Lord Weaselton

    So it looks like Star-Wars-style transparisteel could become a thing…let's see if they ever figure out how to make a hyperdrive!

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    Dejay Rezme

    Basically any new invention will lay waste for 20 years until the patents expire before it can be broadly exploited commercially. Until then the patent monopoly makes them too expensive and not efficient.

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    Aaerk Xaiedrschtaufenbach Aaerkhaezxahaenlock-e

    Wait, if we put that Water proof stuff on a ship, wouldn't it sink all the way to the bottom? Cuz it repels water away, so then as the water moves out of its way, wouldn't it reach the bottom of the ocean? Or would it just float?

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    Kevin Lane

    I was hoping for an organic replacement for titanium and steel for armor and support beams. Something just as strong, but does not need to be mined for. That way, striping mining would reduce, which would benefit the environment.

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    Johnny ontheSpot

    Here's a thought – Perhaps the Aerogel idea is in the same family that created the Great pyramids? They removed the liquid from the stone thus allowing it to easily be moved and formed.
    Just a thought …

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    dragonboy 304

    Wouldn't a invisbilty cloak be a,bad thing because image all the illegal stuff people can get away with a invisibility cloak

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    Brian Bogholtz

    Yes, you are aloud to take a breath or pause between sentences or different subjects. This video sounds like a single paragraph filmed in one take.

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    xXAngel_With_A_Shotgun Xx

    That concrete bacteria doesn't sound like a good idea. What effects could those things have on the environment if they got out of the sidewalk and somewhere they shouldn't be?

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    J. Case

    Id love to see you guys do a video on aircrete. Its really interesting and the possible applications are huge.

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    Grown Baby

    there is a mistake here, invisibility means to see through whats behind the invisible thing and not see your self like in a mirror or see reflected light in a way that dosnt show you whats behind..

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    Justin Fiore

    Aerogel, it was there all along, I was trying to search for an anti liquid, and turns out volume can change while,size stays the same

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    Regarding lotus effect and the like: These surfaces are extremely sensitive to mechanical destruction typically; In plants they can just regrow after suffering damage. In technical applications, they typically have to be replaced by humans which often counteracts the „low maintenance“ target meant to justify the costs in the first place. As far as I know, that's the reason lotus effect wall paints never quite took off as a mainstream solution.

    I'm not an expert on these types of surface conditioning though; What I wrote is just the result of a bunch of Physicists talking about sense and nonsense of the floors waterless toilets in a coffee break 🙂

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    So super synthetic diamonds…. yeah that is going to replace Depleted Uranium in APFSDS rounds for tanks.

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    Tina M

    It is called aluminium. You're a science channel. Why can't you at least try to say an element correctly. As someone who's not a nativ english speaker this is very obvious and drives me crazy. I love your videos though. Just fix it. Aluminium not aluminum. There's another I in there.

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    Med Mahdi Jendoubi

    It's coolnand science and all but you could throw some more images or small pieces of videos so we, the lazy people , can know how those things really look like

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    Peter Peterson

    so, you think the self repairing concrete might be a small insight to how roman concrete was made so strong? maybe these bacteria were present in the mix and in high enough concentration that while the roman concrete was setting the lime that was being produced made it that much stronger

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    Jace Cavacini

    Half of these are things that probably will never be scaled up for inexpensive mass production. :-/ Especially that ludicrously-named “invisibility cloak”… 😛 Also, what makes the “self-healing” cement work better than the cement in my house’s foundation that is seeping calcium outward into the basement over time? If you look closely, you can even see crystals growing. This is caused by moisture seepage, and it is pushing off a layer of fine cement that was plastered over the entire surface to make it smooth, resulting in what looks like a crumbling foundation. If bacteria were to excrete material to fill the cracks, what’s keeping it from contributing to the cracking?

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    1:10 Just to be a bit pedantic, aerogels are typically made using supercritical CO2. While the pressure is very high at roughly 72 atmospheres, the temperature just has to be above criticality which starts at ~31ºC. So no extreme temperatures needed, unless you live on Titan.

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    Michael Linner

    The real problem with the invisibility cloak is having it appear natural from ALL ANGLES SIMULTANEOUSLY! It's relatively easy to do from only one angle.
    As for materials harder than diamonds, at least two of them already exist.
    The concrete fix sounds good at first until you realize that concrete ISN'T MADE OUT OF CALCIUM!

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    Far Scope

    See this cool thing well it could duplicate the world but for now it can only double microscopic plankton

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    Logical Conservative

    I bought a piece of aerogel to put in my display case. It's pretty neat. It's squeaky like styrofoam when you touch it, and it's unbelievably lightweight.

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    Rory O'Brien

    Aerogel's strength is overhyped you can break it apart with your fingers airloy is where it's at tho.
    Edit: 4:11 he made a mistake diamond isn't tough it is hard. Big difference diamond is actually very brittle because of the same reason it is hard. Would this apply to hyper diamonds?

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    Wait a minute …….
    What would happen if a boat/ship was completely coated in that hydrophobic water repellent stuff?! Would it float?????

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    "This stuff isn't just science fiction" … wouldn't you say, this stuff ISN'T science fiction? Or this stuff isn't just IN science fiction?

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    I just turned 60, I have been involved in fixing electronics since I was 21. I taught myself DOS in the early days. Anyway, I love this channel and I like this guy. Excellent channel… Thank you..

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    Joshua Kiser

    Aerogels are not new in any way. Invented in 1931. You would be surprised how much "new" stuff today was invented and in some instances perfected before 1950.

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    Trill Will

    That is a big explosion damn, Jupiter's atmosphere is also hydrogen which probably also ignited on impact right?

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