Materials are a designer’s paint and canvas–and for the most part, they’ve remained pretty static in recent decades. But over the past few years, and in 2017 in particular, we saw new advances in material science that gave creators plenty of exciting toys to play with, from brand new colors and types of inks to new ways of reusing older materials. Here are six of the most innovative.
MIT Media Lab alum Anirudh Sharma invented a device that attaches to the exhaust pipe of vehicles to capture soot before it reaches the air. That’s great for the environment–but it turns out it’s also good for artists. Sharma and his colleagues found a way to transform this soot into black paint, and after years of research they released a series of inks, pens, and artist paints made of the material this year. Each pen’s ink contains about 45 minutes of car exhaust–air pollution that was prevented from reaching people’s lungs and can instead be turned into art.