Here is a fun slideshow in BusinessWeek today, in the upper-left corner of the article. Materials such as translucent concrete that lets 10% of natural daylight through the walls, and a composite wood that actually conducts electricity are now a reality.
While these materials are expensive, their costs are dropping rapidly, as the advanced molecular science behind them is, after all, an information technology. The translucent concrete cost will, over many years, converge with that of ordinary concrete. Plus, the money saved from consuming less electricity on indoor lighting, and thus fewer maintenence people needed to replace indoor tubelights, would also enter the cost equation.
An inflection point may occur with a major new skyscraper in Asia choosing to use some of these materials in some superluxury hotel on the upper floors, or someone like Donald Trump or Steve Wynn adding this as a feature to a new, highly publicized building. The massive exposure will bring more competition, accelerating improvements and driving down prices.
This will be a very fun one to watch over the next several years.
Keywords : Futuristic materials, Donald Trump new building, transparent concrete.