The discipline of materials science has advanced more over the past few decades than it has throughout the rest of history combined. The study of ceramics, polymers, metals, composites, and all materials has endless applications in our daily lives. Manufactured materials are the backbone of every product we use, each car we drive, and even the medicine we rely on.
At Noah Chemicals, we keep a close eye on the latest developments in materials science as they relate to high-purity chemicals. Here are a few interesting advancements we’re excited to watch unfold.
The Limitless Battery
Batteries are critical to so many of the machines, devices, and instruments we use every day, as well as the manufacturing process behind them. Though the development of commercial batteries themselves was an unparalleled breakthrough, there have always been inherent limits to this energy technology. Lithium-ion batteries are perhaps the most-studied type, used to produce everything from electric vehicles to smartphones.
There is research on replacing car batteries’ lithium-ion lattice with silicon, which holds 10 times as many positively charged ions as graphite. There is study of lithium batteries’ electrolyte – the space between the charged anodes – and how changing its substance from traditional solids to superionic solids such as those made of the nanoparticles of copper selenide can provide more charge for a longer period of time.
And, of course, there’s plenty of study around replacing lithium altogether, perhaps with magnesium, sodium, or other oxide-based materials. At this point in history, there are few more impactful research initiatives than the materials science research focusing on energy storage.
“Biopolymers” have the potential to fundamentally change the production cycle of goods in the U.S. and around the globe. Currently, nearly 10% of all the world’s oil extraction each year is used to create plastic. Bioplastics – polymers made from the byproducts of agriculture – could fully disrupt this cycle.
These biologically-derived polymers are totally biodegradable. Scientists are studying how a multitude of crops and plants (soy, corn, wood pulp) can be efficiently turned into an organic polymer. For decades, the process has been too costly to fully integrate into the manufacturing chain, but the tide may be turning.
Regulations are loosening globally on how and for what biopolymers can be used. Supply and logistics chains are also nearing full development, helping keep extraction and shipping costs down worldwide. Experts say that by the early 2020s, everything from produce to prosthetics will be packaged using biodegradable plastics.
The “Wonder Material”
You may not yet have heard of graphene, the so-called “wonder material,” but odds are you will in the next few years. Consisting of a one-atom layer of carbon that’s hundreds of times stronger than steel, it’s touted as the next generation of lightweight, ultra-strong materials.
Graphene is showing great potential for use in commercial products, particularly when combined with other materials. Audio companies are utilizing its properties of stiffness to create the most technologically-advanced headphones on the market. Scientists are testing it as a better solution to the standard dialysis membrane, an essential component of kidney treatment. And of course, graphene is also being tested in the aeronautical space in applications like propulsion and thermal management. So far, graphene has lived up to its moniker of “wonder material” in dozens of sectors that rely heavily on the manufacturing process.
Materials science is an endlessly fascinating industry. Noah Chemicals is proud to supply many of today’s top researchers and manufacturers with the high-purity materials they require.
To find out how our catalogue of materials may be of help to you, contact our on-staff chemists today.