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December 9, 2013

Lack of rare materials could risk gadget innovation

Potential replacement materials are either scarce or non-existent, according to researchers.

By CBR Staff Writer

Increasing dependency of modern technology on rare materials and their heavy usage could severely affect innovation, a new report has warned.

Researchers at Yale University said that the potential replacement materials are either scarce or non-existent, while the growth of devices based on these metals could lead to scarcity in supplies of major elements, mainly metals.

Researchers also revealed that such rare materials are costly to extract, and their processing involves considerable ecological costs, according to the report.

It said: "As wealth and population increase worldwide in the next few decades, scientists will be increasingly challenged to maintain and improve product utility by designing new and better materials, but doing so under potential constraints in resource availability."

The research found that none of the 62 rare metals had options that were compatible to perform equally well, whereas twelve of them had no alternative.

Researchers also noted that the scope for serious disruption due to material scarcity is ever more worrying tech firms.

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