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Materials Science

The usefulness of uselessness

Think of a material. Glass. Carbon-fiber. Graphene. Plastic. Bronze. However high-tech or low, cutting-edge or ancient, all materials have one feature in common: they are designed to create something of use. Utility is in any material’s DNA.

Here at iCeMS we turn that paradigm on its head. We begin with the ultimate in uselessness, with absence. We willfully design a ‘void’, an empty space with infinite potential, and we transform it into an engineered space that becomes a place of comfort, a welcoming host, a safe environment. These are our so-called porous materials.

And what do we put into these (miniscule) designer environments? Gas. More specifically our cutting-edge iCeMS materials scientists use their skills to accommodate gas molecules in designer porous materials. Their uses are manifold and of deep societal significance: selectively trapping and converting carbon dioxide, for cleaning water, safely storing methane, and controlling (safely delivering) gaseous drugs, to name just a few.

We believe our science is pretty cool. Our journey of exploration takes us from inutile void to game-changing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues. Not, perhaps, so useless after all.