In Neal Stephenson’s 1995 novel, The Diamond Age
, he imagines a world in which buildings can be constructed of diamond
, a material that, thanks to submicroscopic robots and nanoengineering, had become cheaper than glass. As a result, whole cities are made of the world’s hardest material, and skyscrapers glisten in the sun.
We can’t yet build with unlimited piles of diamond, no. But Rice University researchers have figured out the next best thing: handling plastic, or even materials such as metal and concrete, in a way that can nearly match diamond’s strength.