It can be bent into a U-shape, "heals" cracks with nothing more than rainwater, and is strong enough to build bridges from. Is Victor Li's composite building material really even concrete anymore?

Early versions of the material have already been used in full-scale building projects as concrete, so I guess that's what we're going with. Li, with others, has been working on this idea for years, designing materials that allow for large concrete structures, like bridges, to expand and contract with temperature changes without cracking and falling apart.

Nearly a decade and a half of research accomplished this goal, and then some: later versions of the composite, as seen above, can be severely bent without losing structural integrity. This resilience comes do to its ability to form a sort of concrete scar tissue out of calcium carbonate, the stuff seashells are made of, which fills the small cracks that form when the material is contorted.


Within five years, Li expects his composite to become a living organism, gain sentience and attack humanity from beneath its feet. Well, OK, he doesn't, but I do. [National Geographic via DVICE]