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Smart Materials Expand Within Global Marketplace

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San Antonio - Oct 11, 2002
Business and technical communities are recognizing smart materials as a promising way to boost revenues and profits. They add significant value to materials, technologies and end products and offer considerable short-term business potential across a range of markets from medical devices to automobiles.

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.

Smart materials lend themselves to an abundance of uses. Markets and technologies for smart materials are young and remain largely unexplored, and there are only a few marketable products. However, researchers are constantly finding combinations of technologies to increase avenues for commercialization.

The existing applications are numerous and diverse. Examples include cardiovascular stents, electrochromatic ski goggles and night vision goggles, sensors for smart missiles, self-dimmable automotive sunroofs, and flat panel information displays for use in computers, televisions, telephones, and other electronic instruments.

New analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan, Smart Materials, reveals developments in SMAs, SMPs, electrochromic materials and fullerenes, while profiling R&D efforts at more than two-dozen organizations and reviewing companies that have smart material-based products on the market or in development. Smart Materials also cites research activities at universities and government organizations worldwide.

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Bringing Space Technology Back Down To Earth
Paris - Aug 19, 2002
New uses for smart materials drew much interest last month at the Farnborough International Air Show 2002, for a range of applications from astronauts' gloves to kids' braces.


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