The Strongest Materials in the Universe - 1 of 5

The Strongest Materials in the Universe - 1 of 5

April 25, 2020

Half-readable machine-made transcription. Original video here: Back to AI Library

[00:00:00.990]
Hello, my name's Michael Chapiro and I'm one of the four co-inventors of the strongest materials in the universe. Now, before I get into what that means, I should explain why that matters.

The process that led to making these materials is something that is at the root of technology and the root of how we make progress in human civilization. And it's quite different from how most people think technology works and progresses. So if you look at something like a material, a lot of people think that that is a scientific process that is driven by academic researchers working in ivory towers. But what we proved with this material is that's not the reality. And when I'm going to be talking about is not materials, but health and specifically key high leverage things that we can do within our health that are going to have an outsized effect.

And it relates to the process that we discovered with materials. So the strongest materials in the universe are not really a material. It's more of a process combined with the material that the whole abstraction and notion of materials breaks down in describing and the way it works. It's like this ring. It's five axis carbon fiber, 3D printing. And so what does that mean?

It's taking a material and adding shape to it, because the performance that we get in real life, it's not just about an infinitely scalable substance that can be manipulated in any way. It's something that arises from the manufacturing process itself.

So you can see that in how the what you might think of as a fundamental property is actually going to shift when you manufacturer something that's called the size effect of strength.

So the strength of things is not actually a fundamental way of describing materials.


And when you don't have fundamental attributes, then describing a substance as this class of as being a particular material breaks down, especially if it can manifest a very wide variety of properties, which is what happens in the five axis additive manufacturing process in a way that's a bit different from a other sort of metal 3D printing or things like that with regular shape optimization.

So when you have a printing process with carbon fiber, what you're getting is a material whose properties depend on the orientation and you're changing that orientation of that continuous fiber and you're changing where it is. So you have two variables there. And when you do that, what happens is you don't have a fundamental substance that's just being scaled in space.

You have a structure that comes into existence in parallel with the existence of the material. So you can't say there's a fundamental material that this thing is made out of, can have subcomponents. You have the carbon fibers themselves. But then at that point, it's like if you are describing it, a metal alloy by the crystal grains that it's comprised of. And that's not really meaningful.

Moreover, when you have a material that's defined by shape, it stops being defined by a human driven design process because no human can figure out exactly where fiber needs to go within a space.

If you have something that's filling a path, that's a very hard thing to do, even for a software algorithm. But it means that the software process is really defining what you're getting and defining the material.

So it's it's sort of like a structure made out of information more than being made out of a material.

So the whole notion of materials collapses because of this.

I mean, it's been useful to have it and we still have matter. That's what physicists work with. But material is is now sort of broken and you can still use it if you want. Just know it's obsolete. It's it's not going to cause any major catastrophes that I know of.

If you keep using it, why am I talking about materials if I'm actually going to be talking about health and human performance, happiness and so forth?

And it's because there's a lot of misconceptions about, as I was saying, how technology progresses. So let's consider how this came about.

The strongest materials in the universe. And I say strongest materials in the universe because so if you take this idea of strong.

Shares are matter that's built out of information. Then the closest thing to a material that you have left. That's.

You can sort of then compare it to anything else. And if you compare it to, let's say, a shape optimized titanium or aluminum component, you can get things that are way lighter. And so the way carbon fiber was traditionally used is as a sheet layered process.

So it's it's really great if you want to make something like the hull of an airplane. You have a lot of complex metal parts on the inside, which actually can end up being most of your weight. It's not so much that you can then make those other parts out of carbon fiber. It's you can make it out of this five axis continuous carbon fiber 3D printing process, which is not just lighter than metal, but it's it's far lighter than carbon fiber.

So if you're going from a sheet metal to a carbon fiber, you get maybe a 10 to 30 percent weight reduction. But if you go from a metal cart to a five axis continuous carbon fiber 3D printed part, then you're going to get somewhere between a 50 to 90 percent weight reduction, which is huge because you're saving 90 percent. That means you're using only a tenth of the material. That is a lot more than saving 50 percent. So what is the connection between health and materials?

The fundamental idea is that we are still able to make large advances by making shifts at a high level, that we don't need to go to really low level molecular or atomic technology.

And in fact the reality is that those things are not very effective, at least not yet and not for a while. So if you asked a real person what's going to be the next Uber material and which materials actually don't progress that much?

It's usually big changes in processes such as being able to make steel, being able to make aluminum. It's not the little iterations. So people might imagine that somewhere there's some academic in a lab and they're going to come out with something that's way stronger than anything else.

But the reality is that we know more or less how strength works and what the fundamental principles are determining the strength of materials. So we can actually retrospectively ask if you were to design the strongest materials in the universe.

What would that be?

And this is also why say universe and not just in existence or in the world. And this is what I call a top logical composer.

And so it's this idea that performance is driven by shape and sort of what you might call your underlying performance. And that's also more clear once you break down that distraction of materials. And when you look at it that way, then it's quite obvious that your strongest material is always going to be something that has very high flexibility in shape for your shape angle.

And on the material angle, the fundamental thing with that is, is you have whatever it is you're making something out of.

But it's the size things that are smaller or stronger.

That's a fundamental aspect of materials and that's related to your defect rates and the probability of having a failure. Basically, if you have something really small, then you can't have a very big defect in it. So you're going to get much higher strength, something like a steel wire as you stretch it out. Any defect is constrained to your cross section of your wires.

So that's why carbon fibers can be so strong that that's a big part of it versus a graphite pencil. It's you know, you had your same carbon in there because it's so much bigger. You get big cracks and it becomes a lot weaker, a lot more brittle. Carbon fibers also brittle.

But it works out when you put it in a composite so that this way to make something really strong is to give it flexibility in shape and having very small fine materials like carbon fiber. And in practice today, carbon fiber is the strongest thing that we can make stuff out about scale carbon fiber, reinforced polymers for most acquisitions. If you have a very specific loading constraint, you know, you can get a different answer, but that's the most common answer depending on what form you're trying to solve.

And so the combination of carbon fiber and maximum flexibility is naturally the strongest material in the universe because it is the first instance of when I'm calling a top logical composite and we can say top logical composites are generally the strongest materials that you can make from a really fundamental physics perspective. A composite is always going to be the way you can get a really small thing and integrate that into a bigger structure and scale that up, which is something that nano materials really struggle with.

And that ties into the reason that the way technology involves this more about from larger scale, at least looking at materials rather than nanoscale. If you try to do something with nano materials, you have a lot of problems. You'll hear journalists who are completely non-technical. Of course, I'm writing. It's a problem of scaling production and this is complete B.S. It might be hard to scale production, but even if you could make 10000 times more than whatever you're making, that wouldn't solve the problem.

The real problem is integration. People talk about nano materials as if they were materials in the way you think about them in a normal sense. You can pick them up and do something with them, but you can't. In reality, if you get a nano material, whatever nano material, talking about carbon nanotubes, graphene, those are some of the hot ones.

You get that if you buy a bet and you combine online now get it either as a powder or it's going to be suspended in water. You can't get a break of it. There's no such thing as a brick of nanomaterial. Maybe you can press them together, but if you did, it would be very weak. There's nothing holding it together.

So when people talk about the strength of nano materials, this is meaningless.

It's as meaningless as talking about the strength of atomic bonds. You could even go as far as it's it's almost it's not quite as meaningless as talking about the binding strength in the nucleus of an atom. How much energy do you need to separate protons from neutrons?

And then if you could scale that up, but obviously you can't make bulk things out of that's nonsense and you have a similar limitation with nano materials, which is you need to integrate them into a physical thing that can transfer mechanical loads to that fiber.

So the way with carbon fiber composite works, as you typically put it in a polymer and that polymer is not that strong, but strength between the matrix, your polymer and your fibers is just strong enough that with the sliding forces, the sheer sheer strength that can add up over a distance so that in your cross section you can actually hold up the full strength of that fiber.

And so you can't really do that effectively with nano material. That's that's never been shown a translation of your nano material strength to a macro scale thing, which is why carbon fiber reinforced polymers are still the highest performance thing you can you can build a structure out of. Now, that doesn't mean that they're useless. You know, it's it's good that people are working on this stuff and it can, in fact, integrate in a useful way.

In the way that it's useful is when it becomes a feature of the material, not the primary thing, but something that just gives it a little boost.

So, you know, you take your regular carbon fiber reinforced plastic and then you sprinkle a little bit of carbon nanotubes in there and OK, then you might get a little bit of boost in performance. You're not getting the strength of the carbon nanotubes in there. And that in itself is a slow, hard process. And you have to test then make sure I understand what's going on.

But eventually, that's how those things get adapted. But it's not really fundamentally shifting anything. And that's really the the difference in what people expect.

So when people think about materials and how materials typically advance, you're usually getting these very small advances. The problem is that's how medicine and health care operate.

And they operate based on things like genetics. That's a hot area. And the reason people like genetics is because you can measure tons of things and quantify a bunch thing. The problem is just like you can't translate your nanotube to your macro scale. It's very difficult to translate genetic things to something useful for a human. And that's that's something called the curse of dimensionality, which is as you start getting more and more variables, the way those things can combine and interact in unpredictable ways.

It just it completely explodes. And it doesn't matter how powerful your computer is with biology, you very quickly get to to unsolvable situations.

So what's the equivalent of five axis continuous carbon fiber, 3-D printing for human health, human wellness and performance?

Next: Engineering vs Science in Medicine and the Scale of Technology - 2 of 5

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