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Published on January 6th, 2017 | By: April Gocha

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Five materials science wonders to watch in 2017

Published on January 6th, 2017 | By: April Gocha

[Image above] Credit: Crystal; Flickr CC BY 2.0

 

 

Finally—2016 is over.

 

I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s been a long year. So I’m not all too sad to bid farewell to 2016 and welcome what’s to come in 2017.

 

So now that you’ve made your champagne toast and cemented your new resolution, it’s time to look forward to the new year. Eileen already gave us a sneak peek into what’s in store for ACerS in 2017.

 

And, just as in 2015 and 2016, I’m going to peer into my crystal ball and make some predictions about what will be big in the materials science world in the coming year.

 

 

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Credit: Dan Little Photography; HRL Laboratories

1. Additive manufacturing—yes, again. 

There’s a reason why 3-D printing has remained at the top of my list for the past few years, and it doesn’t seem to be budging. This year, we’ve seen additive manufacturing innovate even farther into ceramic and glass spheres (e.g., this and this), with major commercial companies like GE investing in and delivering commercial tech using additive technologies. This tech may finally realize major strides as far as scale-up this year, meaning additively manufacturing is going big places.

 

 

 

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Credit: Pete Slater; Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

2. Better, safer batteries.

Next-gen batteries have been a top topic for some time, but with exploding lithium-ion batteries freshly blasted into consumers’ minds, the time is ripe for safer and improved batteries. And the recent disasters may have opened the door for new tech and improved manufacturing processes.  Solid state and other next-gen battery varieties are inching ever closer to commercial utility, promising to deliver better battery potential in safer packages that can meet ever-demanding consumer needs.

 

 

 

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Credit: Maurizio Pesce; Flickr CC BY 2.0

3. New materials for consumer electronics.

Last year, we saw an all-new ceramic Apple Watch and a lot of speculation that this year’s Apple iPhone 8 will be ceramic—or not. But regardless of what the Fruit does, a lot of other electronics companies are turning to ceramic materials for they latest devices, some with great results. Beyond outwardly ceramic devices, however, lots more consumer electronics are integrating with our daily lives—and even these rely upon ceramic and glass materials to make them possible. What’s bound to be big in consumer electronics this year? Check back next week for a recap from CES 2017 to preview the new year’s trends.

 

 

 

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Credit: Paul B; Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

4. Glass going in all new places.

Speaking of new directions for consumer electronics, have you seen Panasonic’s nearly invisible TV? Or Tesla’s seamless solar roof tiles? Glass is going into entirely new avenues, leading some to coin today’s times the Glass Age. With manufacturing techniques able to produce thinner, stronger, and tougher glass than ever before, there’s no doubt that glass will continue to skate in all new directions in 2017.

 

 

 

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Credit: janneke staaks; Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

5. Big data will be big.

Big data is no doubt big. Boosted by the Materials Genome Initiative, the potential of using data to discover and unlock the potential of materials is quite familiar. But beyond just discovery, big data offers immense possibilities to boost manufacturing efficiency, too. Plus, new ways of thinking about and analyzing complexly large datasets will hopefully chart new courses for how the huge amounts of mounting data can be effectively used in this year and beyond.

 

What do you think looms large in 2017? Tell us below in the comments!

 


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