RISK BITES: Advanced Materials and Risk – An Introduction

by Ishani Hewage on July 16, 2013

Do advanced materials, with their unique properties and incredible potential, also lead to unique and unusual risks?  In Part Four of the seven -part Advance Materials series on Risk Bites, Andrew Maynard, Director of Risk Science Center, begins to explore the important issue of advanced material risks.

Asking whether advanced materials also come with unique and unusual risks is a smart question, says Andrew in this week’s video.  Advanced materials are designed and engineered to behave differently to more conventional materials, so it makes sense not to take their safety for granted. New materials may provide stronger, lighter materials, or help create faster, more powerful computers, or enable cheap access to clean water, to name just three areas where advanced materials are being used.  But if our bodies and the environment respond badly to them, the benefits begin to look less attractive.

As Andrew puts it in this week’s Risk Bites, “the last thing we need is a wonder material that ends up causing disease or harming the environment – it is not good for the people it affects, and it is certainly not good for business.”

Next week’s video begins to look at what might make some advanced materials potentially dangerous, and how future risks can be avoided.  To receive notification of the videos as they are posted, subscribe to Risk Bites on YouTube.

The Advance Materials series includes:

Part 1: A Brief History of Materials (June 25)
Part 2: Designer materials and 20th Century Innovation (July 2)
Part 3: Frontiers in Advanced Materials (July 9)
Part 4: Advanced Material and Risk – an Introduction (July 16)
Part 5: What Makes Advanced Materials Potentially Harmful (July 23)
Part 6: Novel Behavior and Novel Risk (July 30)
Part 7: Creating Advanced Materials that are Safe by Design (August 7)


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