Modern society is now starting to feel the real-world effects of climate change, after more than a century of unrestrained carbon emissions, overuse of natural resources, and irresponsible production of material waste. The rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide has contributed to a warming climate, which means rising sea levels, more droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, and stronger, more frequent tropical storms.

Confronting these challenges will take an all-hands-on-deck approach to adapt to changes that have already taken place and prevent things from getting worse in the future. While governments and businesses can try to affect change through regulation, policy, and investment, science and engineering can play a crucial role by creating new technologies that will change the way we live, the products we use, how we travel, and how we power our world.

Scientists and engineers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory are already answering the challenge, using biomaterials, advanced polymers, and artificial intelligence to engineer new materials that are fully recyclable and biodegradable from the ground up, without sacrificing the useful qualities of traditional plastics and consumer products. At the same time, these new materials can be engineered with specific properties to incorporate them into a new generation of electronics, better batteries, clean energy systems, and more.

This work has the potential to advance technology across the board, while reducing environmental harms and enabling human society to move forward in a more sustainable manner. With a decade of advances in molecular engineering, a storied history of materials science in the physical sciences, and crucial expertise and resources from Argonne, UChicago can transform the way in which impactful materials science and engineering is done, driven by sustainability goals and in coordination with insights from economics and policy.

Read more at UChicago News