Posted by: crudbasher | June 20, 2013

How Material Sciences Contribute To Disruptive Technology

Burj Khalifa, tallest skyscraper (cc) Wikimedia Commons

Burj Khalifa, tallest skyscraper (cc) Wikimedia Commons

In looking at the future I see a world transformed by new technologies. I think we are about to see the most new technologies unleashed in the shortest period of time in history. The drivers of this are the ever increasing performance of computers of course, but you can’t overlook material sciences either.

New materials are allowing previously impossible construction. For example, for a long time now you couldn’t build skyscrapers over a certain height because you couldn’t make the elevators go up far enough. The weight of the elevator cables made the whole thing impractical. I remember visiting the World Trade Center in New York City and you had to switch elevators halfway up. If you go much higher, then you need to switch 3 times which becomes impractical.

Now a company called Kone has developed a new cable that cuts the weight in half. (H/T Gizmag)

UltraRope was created by Finnish elevator manufacturer Kone, and was unveiled this Monday in London. Instead of having the same cross-sectional shape as cable, it’s more ribbon- or tape-like in form. It’s composed of a carbon fiber core, covered in a high-friction plastic coating. An individual elevator car is lifted and lowered by multiple reels of UltraRope, that run into a hoisting machine at the top of the shaft.

That’s pretty cool and has applications in any field that uses long cables. That technology will enable taller buildings which allow more people in a smaller ground footprint. A big problem would also be parking for all those people but self driving cars would help a lot with that.

In the 1990, computer technology exploded in use. I think the same thing is happening in materials sciences right now. If you couple some of these new exotic materials like graphene put together by 3d printing, you could get some really interesting capabilities. Once 3d printing can embed electronics into the devices you will see an explosion of new devices.

Yesterday I wrote about getting students hands on technologies sooner than college. Could we include advanced material science in high schools? Could this be the new woodshop class?


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