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also see Chemistry and Elements
Material science is the enabling-technology which makes new ideas practical. Leonardo Da Vinci invented a helicopter but found wood and canvas a bit limiting in terms of power-to-weight ratio. So, when any new material is developed it's good news for anyone in the business of thinking up ideas.
Different AGES in history are named after the materials that characterised them, for example The Stone Age, The Bronze Age, The Iron Age, etc.
It wasn't until the development of electricity that aluminium was practical as a sensible material at all.
Titanium also wasn't known about until recently. But look on a Periodic Table of Elements and see how many elements you have never seen or had any experience of. This suggests to me that there is a huge realm of possibility waiting to be discovered.
It's not just the elements, but the ways they can be arranged. For example, austenitic steel is mainly iron but it's rustproof and non-magnetic. Carbon exists as graphite, but as diamond is perhaps more interesting.
In the late 20th Century such materials as Lexan, Kevlar, and carbon-fibre have been developed. These have various useful properties such as being very tough, strong, light, easy to make into items, etc.
With the space age, such things as Teflon / PTFE (as available from Advanced Chemical Technology Co) were created.
Now (2001), new materials are being developed that will make a big difference to the rate at which technology can advance. Composite materials and ceramics have a great many possibilities.
C60 is carbon in a newly-discovered form. Some people believe this will lead to the possibility of making cables of what is in effect diamond rope, making it possible to be hoisted into outer space without the expense of rocketry!
Glass is a material which has some curious properties to it.
Nanotechnology may make possible things which in the present age sound like science fiction.
Some more developments are going on: http://www.tgdaily.com/trendwatch-features/34213-scientists-construct-a-transparent-plastic-thats-stronger-lighter-than-ste
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