Structural materials are defined mainly by virtue of their properties of rigidity, strength, and toughness, and the effect of environmental variables such as temperature and humidity on those properties. As applications become ever more demanding, the combination with other properties such as density and dimensional stability gains in importance, and the complexity of new materials becomes so great that empirical development becomes prohibitively difficult.

Advanced materials are an important strategic priority within all major knowledge economies considered in this report. Not only are advanced materials considered to be critical drivers of innovation across a range of important technologies and industrial sectors, but they are also seen as essential for underpinning key areas of high value manufacturing, as well as addressing a range of important societal ‘grand challenges’ in areas such as mobility, healthcare and energy. 

A superconductor is a material that acts strangely when cooled down to a certain temperature. When these materials reach their critical temperature they suddenly become perfect conductors. A semiconductor, on the other hand, is a material that has a conductivity somewhere between that of a conductor and an insulator.

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