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
- Element Zero
- Quantium 40
- Red matter
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.