Five wonder materials that could change the world
The remark is spot on. Over the centuries, scientists have been as likely to stumble on the next wonder material during a botched experiment as to create it from scratch on purpose. The tradition continues today: more than one material tipped to revolutionise the world, or at least give us better gadgets, came about through serendipity, if not outright blunders.
But the chance discovery of useful materials might not carry on for much longer. Scientists are now turning to computers to design materials and work out their properties before going anywhere near a laboratory or workshop. Some of the newest materials that are getting scientists fired up exist only in theory. The goal now is to make them a reality.
The materials here are so new that their ultimate applications are still tentative – or not even being guessed at. But each has the potential to be transformative. If the history of materials is any guide, how we eventually use them will, in part, be discovered accidentally, too.