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vH Essay

Dear Engineer,
ever wondered if materials
could defy gravity?

This month we sat down with Roberto, a Senior Polymer chemist in the vH lab, to answer some hypothetical, and not-so-hypothetical, questions about material science and the future of material innovation.

Hi Roberto! What’s the next big trend in material science?

I firmly believe it will be sustainability, from the way we obtain raw materials to the end-of-life management process. Earth will not support us for much longer if we keep consuming resources in the same way. We have a long way to go, but luckily, sustainable materials are catching on.

If you could shrink to microbe size and explore Earth, which ecosystem would you study up close?

There are a multitude of ecosystems I would love to study closely but if I had to choose one, I would like to observe how some bacteria can "eat" plastic. It would be incredible to see up close how plastic materials that are difficult to recycle can be literally devoured by bacteria, like the recently discovered Ideonella Sakaiensis or certain strains of E. Coli.

If you could invent a material that defies gravity, what would it look like, and why?

Every material has a mass and is therefore inevitably affected by gravity, but it is technically possible to defy it with a superconductor that amplifies and uses the Earth's magnetic field. If we did create a gravity defiant material, it would look very futuristic, because what looks more like the future than a material that hovers in the air?

If our lab equipment could talk, what do you think it would say about our experiments?

Without any doubt, our lab equipment would be very proud to participate in our ethical experiments, and appreciate being part of the change we’re making.