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Unobtainium is a term coined by engineers to describe materials that do not exist. When you find that the material properties required for a particular function cannot be met by any material known to modern science, the material that you need is unobtainium. Examples include:

  • Metals with impossibly high melting points.
  • Structural materials with impossibly high tensile strength.
  • Fuels or explosives with impossibly high energy density.

This term comes up occasionally in science fiction, describing a material with impossible properties. Many science fiction materials actually fit this description, though.

Science Fiction Examples

Uses of explicitly named "Unobtainium"

  • The hull of the drilling vehicle in The Core was composed of unobtainium.
  • The human miners in Avatar were extracting unobtainium, an element with superconductive properities which could, in sufficient quantities, levitate.