Materials science may be the most important technology of the next decade. Here’s why:

 

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Think of just about any major challenge we will face over the next decade and materials are at the center of it. To build a new clean energy future, we need more efficient solar panels, wind turbines and batteries. Manufacturers need new materials to create more advanced products. We also need to replace materials subject to supply disruptions, like rare earth elements.

Traditionally, developing new materials has been a slow, painstaking process. To find the properties they’re looking for, researchers would often have to test hundreds — or even thousands — of materials one by one. That made materials research prohibitively expensive for most industries.

Yet today, we’re in the midst of a materials revolution. Scientists are using powerful simulation techniques, as well as machine learning algorithms, to propel innovation forward at blazing speed and even point them toward possibilities they had never considered. Over the next decade, the rapid advancement in materials science will have a massive impact.

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Ultrasound-powered nanorobots clear bacteria and toxins from blood

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The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency aims to create a broad-spectrum detoxification robotic platform.

MRSA bacterium captured by a hybrid cell membrane-coated nanorobot (colored scanning electron microscope image and black and white image below) (credit: Esteban-Fernández de Ávila/Science Robotics)

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed tiny ultrasound-powered nanorobots that can swim through blood, removing harmful bacteria and the toxins they produce.

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