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Going Big at Nano Scale

Posted on November 28th, 2015 by in New Materials & Applications

What exactly makes “advanced material” – well, advanced? Throughout history, humans have been adapting, manipulating, and combining materials to suit our needs. But what explains the recent innovations in materials and how have engineers and researchers gone microscopic to achieve magnanimous results? More after the jump.

As an engineer and a lifelong maker, I am constantly examining my surroundings for not only the immediate objects and their intended purpose, but also the components they contain and how they are constructed. You never know when the gears in a discarded printer or the heating element from a broken toaster may come in handy. In a pinch, the coat hanger from your dry cleaning can be used as welding rod or your toothpaste can buff the haze out of your car’s plastic headlights – and prevent unsightly tartar buildup.

This fascination with how things are made is what prompted my initial intrigue at a video entitled A Brief Introduction to Advanced Materials (including nanomaterials) that I recently ran across while frittering away some time on the Internet. Produced by Andrew Maynard, Director of the Risk Innovation Lab, Arizona State University, the video examines the question of whether new advanced materials present risks, but also does a great job of explaining how researchers and engineers have discovered and apply advanced materials.

As entertaining as informative, Mr. Maynard describes how the atomic revolution paved the way for modern advancements in materials and how we have only just begun to realize the full magnitude of what can be accomplished at this nano scale for producing “designer” materials. How manipulating the structure of materials at the molecular level could produce results that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Manipulating atoms has enabled researchers and engineers to open “nature’s toolbox” to push the bounds of the possible. The possibilities are certainly exciting!

What’s your experience been with advanced materials? Any advice or warnings to share with others? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.

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