Materials such as smart memory polymers (SMPs) are capable of stretching to eight times their original length. Such an elastic material might replace natural rubber and synthetic elastomers, which are both expensive and difficult to recycle. Nanotubes have the ability to absorb great strain. In experiments, a triangular pack of single-walled nanotubes has endured 100 times that of steel at one-sixth its weight.
Fullerenes have prospective application as optical limiters as they have the ability to stop light. Furthermore, they can be used as superconductors as they are hollow molecules composed of pure carbon atoms.
"Though few commercial and industrial applications of smart materials are immediately viable, their potential applications are undeniable," says Technical Insights Analyst Joe Constance. "Improvements in their performance would increase the range of possible applications. End-user familiarity and confidence in use is also imperative to ensure their increased application."
Development of these materials will benefit companies that use smart components by adding value to products and services.
For example, many electrochromatic product makers are perfecting the durability of their materials. For a glass component to be economically viable it must meet expectations of a warranty period of 20 years or more. Smart materials companies are looking to gain in the electrochromic markets by working with glassmakers, other manufacturers, and architects to make electrochromic products and designs.