Congressional passage of the national infrastructure investment act earlier this month means more than half a trillion dollars in new funding is designated to repair and upgrade American road networks, power grids, water systems and more.
While much of that work is remedial, there is significant need to improve the standards and specifications of existing infrastructure. For example, technological advances in electronics for communications, transportation and other fields are pushing the capacity and stability limits of conventional electrical conductors like copper. Progress really may come down to the wire available for innovation.
Wonmo Kang, an assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University, says transportation offers a helpful analogy for the material limits being tested by continuous expansion of power demand in every arena of life.