The Most Significant Technologies of 2020

Posted on


Microneedles for painless injections and tests

Paper-thin, miniature needles could usher in an era of painless injections and blood sampling for testing. Such needles will penetrate the skin without touching the deeper sensitive nerve endings, and cover the surface of the “burdock” patch. With the help of such a patch, the patient will be able to inject himself or take blood for analysis. Since their use does not require a high degree of training, it is expected that this invention can make medicine more accessible, especially where there is a shortage of medical workers or equipment.

Solar energy for chemical reactions

Many industrial chemical reactions require energy from fossil fuels.  This year, scientists have taken significant steps forward in this field by creating catalysts for chemical reactions that are activated by exposure to sunlight. Substances made from spent CO2 using such catalysts can be turned into anything from drugs to components of chemical fertilizers and textiles.

Virtual Patients

While the idea of ​​swapping living people for virtual copies during medical examinations may seem simple, the science behind it is extremely complex. To achieve this, you need to enter data obtained from images of human organs into a computer program that simulates their vital activity. Further.

a complex algorithm solves an equation with the main parameters of a real organ and creates its virtual model, which behaves like a living one. In addition, humans can be replaced by these virtual copies in the early stages of clinical trials, making drug and medical procedure testing faster, safer, and less costly.

Spatial Computing

After virtual and augmented reality, spatial computing could be the next step in merging the real and digital worlds. Like VR and AR, this technology digitizes physical objects, combines them using a cloud server and thus creates a digital representation of the real world. But spatial computing goes even further, allowing the manipulation of digital counterparts of real objects in a virtual environment.

Digital Medicine

Digital devices will not replace doctors in the future, but their use in medicine will increase significantly, which will benefit patients with limited access to medical services the most. Many “smart watches” can now determine whether their wearer has an irregular heartbeat. In the future, there will be detectors that can detect breathing problems and even depression and Alzheimer’s, as well as pills that will monitor the human body from the inside, in particular to detect internal bleeding and cancerous DNA.

Aviation on electricity

The use of electricity in aviation will reduce CO2 emissions, reduce fuel costs and solve the problem of noise around airports. A number of companies, including Airbus and NASA, are actively investing in the development of electric motors for aircraft. And while long-haul travel is likely a long way off, the technology holds significant promise for short-haul airlines and small private vehicles, although Airbus says 100-passenger electric aircraft will be available as early as 2030.

Low carbon cement

Almost 4 billion tons of cement, a key component of concrete, is produced annually in the world. Its production process requires the burning of fossil energy sources, which is responsible for almost 8% of all global CO2 emissions. With the current rate of urbanization, this figure will soon increase to 5 billion tons, so researchers are actively working on low-carbon approaches to the manufacture of cement, technologies for capturing CO2 from the atmosphere, as well as producing concrete without cement at all.

Quantum sensors

Imagine self-driving cars that can detect noise around the corner, or wearable scanners to monitor brain activity. These are far from all technologies based on quantum sensors – ultra-precise detectors based on the quantum properties of matter, using, in particular, the difference between different energy states of electrons. So far, such systems are complex and expensive, but more affordable samples should soon appear.

“Green” hydrogen

When hydrogen burns, the only reaction product is ordinary water. And if hydrogen is obtained by electrolysis from renewable energy sources, then it becomes completely environmentally friendly. According to current forecasts, the size of the green hydrogen market by 2050 could reach $12 trillion. It is hydrogen that can become an alternative for those sectors of the economy that are difficult to electrify due to the need for high-energy fuel, in particular, logistics and industrial production.

Whole genome synthesis

Advances in technology, which allows genetic sequences to be created and inserted into microorganisms, allow genetic material to be altered on a larger scale. This could potentially shed light on how viruses spread and facilitate the development of vaccines and other drugs. In addition, this technology will turn organic waste into useful chemicals, fuels and building materials, and it may also help to create pathogen-resistant crops.