Material transformations

Behind the scenes many of the materials we use in everyday life are changing and improving life on Earth. Read on about some of the impacts of these new materials and see if your organization should be investigating their use in your business.
What is changing?


  • Researchers have predicted graphene could be used for everything from the frame of driverless cars to touch screens.
  • In structural applications graphene could be used for temperature controlmaterials and self-cleaning coatings.
  • Wonder material graphene could provide the basis for the future of circuitry.
  • Labs could only incorporate tiny flakes of graphene or graphene-like materials into composites.
  • Graphene could be the material that gives a voice to myriad new computing devices.
  • In structural applications graphene could be used for temperature control materials and self-cleaning coatings.
  • Graphene could be used in aerospace (structural monitoring, flame-retardants, anti-icing, conductive).

3D printing

  • 3D printing finished parts will take 10 to 100 times longer and cost 10 to 100 times more than manufacturing using traditional techniques like stamping or casting.
  • More R&D will certainly be needed to develop both hardware and materialsthat will make 3D house printing as safe and cost-effective as traditional construction methods.


  • The development of composite materials and the ability to tailor materialsat the atomic level will likely provide opportunities to make materials more compatible with the environments in which they will be used.
  • Current high-visibility investments and technology breakthroughs will be needed to realize the full potential of nanotechnology.
  • A new high-performance anode structure based on silicon-carbon nanocomposite materials could significantly improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries used in a wide range of applications from hybrid vehicles to portable electronics.
  • Using super-hydrophobic materials could increase the efficiency without the need to use large funnels with high-pitched angles to prevent water from sticking to surfaces.
  • Macroporous electronics made from biocompatible polymers could be used as a scaffold for tissue engineering in order to create tissue innervated with electronic sensors.
  • Artificial heart tissue will reduce heart problems by providing regenerative materials to repair hearts.
  • Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and smart and novel materials will enable small, ubiquitous sensors.
  • Nanotechnology could provide powerful tools for the food production and distribution industries.


  • Materials technology will produce products, components, and systems that are smaller.
  • Machine learning can be used to reliably forecast the prices of energy and rawmaterials or to predict energy demand in entire regions.
  • Better recycling technologies, infrastructure, and collection rates could further reduce environmental pressures and European reliance on resource imports.
  • Australia will continue to be a major supplier of crucial energy and raw materials to the rest of the world.
  • Recycling technology will improve and allow objects no longer in use to be turned back into input material.


  • Fuel cells will remain significantly more expensive than conventional powertrains as systems complexity is higher and the use of expensivematerials.
  • The role of engine oils will become more important in helping meet fueleconomy requirements.
  • A breakthrough in components for next-generation batteries could come from special materials that transform their structure to perform better over time.
  • There are potential resource risks for the rare earth elements that are required for electric motors and mobile phones etc.
  • A substantial fraction of the Sun’s energy impinging on Earth will be captured for human use.
  • A new type of sodium-ion battery could prove to be a practical option for storing power from wind and solar farms.


  • Metals from asteroids and the Moon could be the backbone of orbiting habitats or material for microgravity spacecraft factories.
  • On Earth these same habitat manufacturing capabilities could be used to produce housing wherever affordable housing is needed and access to conventional building materials and skills is limited.


  • Lithium production could bump up against supply constraints by 2020.
  • Building lithium-ion cells in heretofore unknown numbers will require more of the raw materials needed to make them.


  • Artificial materials will be integrated into the body more and more as time goes on.
  • Graphene has the potential to revolutionize processes across industries and could completely transform our world as the material of the 21st century.
  • Advances in lightweight materials, additive manufacturing, frugal innovation, and the so-called circular economy will change how manufacturers use metals and other material”materis and raise resource productivity and efficiency.
  • There will be a need for thermal interface materials.
  • Silicon telluride uptakes lithium and magnesium and could potentially be used for energy storage.
  • The development of composite materials and the ability to tailor materials at the atomic level will likely provide opportunities to make materials more compatible with the environments in which they will be used.
  • New surgical tools and techniques and new materials and designs for vesicle and tissue support will likely continue to reduce surgical invasiveness and offer new solutions to medical problems.
  • Materials and nanotechnology will enable the development of new devices with unforeseen capabilities.
  • Using less toxic materials in both construction and operations creates a healthy indoor environment that customers and employees will find attractive.
  • 2d materials could for example be used in transistor gate insulators, photo-responsive components, as active materials for FETs.
  • Info-chemistry and materials science will deliver machines and materials that can adapt and self-organize in changing contexts.
  • New science and technology opportunities could be pursued in biofuels made from the cost-competitive cellulosic raw materials.
  • Unique materials, technology and 3D printing could dramatically change the future of fashion.
  • Lightweight, sensitive, responsive, self-healing and tough structures will be the future of super-materials.
  • Artificial materials such as glass or ceramics could be made tougher or more durable than they currently are.
  • The translucent materials of shrimp shells could allow them to be used in innovative ways for building designs.
  • Graphene could have unexpected impacts upon the environment.
  • Graphene could modify the properties of other materials.
  • More superconductors could be found among magnetic materials.
  • The introduction of new materials such as composites and carbon fibres in industrial processes will further widen the scope for use of robots in handling.
  • Application of the new materials could eliminate the need for the use for platinum group metals (PGM) and rare earth metals.
  • Hybrid graphene oxide/cellulose microfibers could supersede carbon fibers.
  • Deep-fried pom-poms of graphene could ultimately make batteries in phones and tablets smaller.
  • Much more compact or even entirely new devices could be developed from magnetic nanomaterials such as the skyrmion-materials.
  • Demand for graphene-enhanced materials for 3D printing could be strong
  • Graphene could be integrated into silicon photonics.
  • Highly porous, synthetically active materials could be used strategically synergistically with existing structural building components.
  • Better materials and manufacturing techniques for the nanowires could allow carmakers to harvest power from the heat wasted by exhaust systems or lead to more efficient devices to cool computer chips.

Learn more
Find the sources and more resources on Shaping Tomorrow about ‘Material Transformations‘ some of which were used in this Trend Alert, or ask us for our ready-made and free, in-depth PowerPoint report on this or any other topic of interest to you. Also, click here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s