The level of materials science is so important to the degree of advancement of a given age of humanity that we frequently split these ages up using the materials common to the time. The Bronze Age and the Iron Age are just a couple examples. The 20th century might be referred to as the steel age by future historians. We appear to be entering a “super materials” age now.
Humanity has smart devices and ever more sophisticated machines, but the materials used in a society are what make all the rest of this possible. Alexei Beltyukov says we simply could not make smartphones if our materials science was still stuck at only being able to mold iron. Wonder materials that are capable of withstanding great temperatures and pressures are going to be gradually finding their way out of labs and into industry and society through the rest of this decade and the next.
Graphene would have to top the list of these wonder materials. It is 100 times stronger than steel by weight, which is an incredible leap forward. It is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. All three of these attributes will give it wide ranging applications. Those of us who are alive over the next 20 or so years will see changes and advancements greater than those in any previous period of human history, and all of this will be made possible by the materials we are able to fashion things out of.