Mixing and matching two seemingly distinct components has led to some of humanity’s greatest inventions. Reinforcing concrete with steel made skyscrapers possible. Stitching together the atoms of various substances has led to composite materials, like carbon fiber and fiberglass, that are used in our phones, cars, and homes.

Now researchers at the University of Chicago have figured out a way to drastically improve the way engineers go about creating these compound materials. In a paper published in the journal Science, Saien Xie and his colleagues were able to seamlessly merge the atoms of two materials together, as if they were just one structure. This is a feat that even the scientists involved were astonished they were able to achieve.

“It is surprising that different atomically-thin crystals can be seamlessly sewed together, atom by atom, without leaving holes at the interface,” Xie tells Inverse. “This is possible because we developed a technique that allows different atomic crystals to grow under the same constant environment with the same high quality.”

This technique allowed for the creation of a flexible and ultra-thin material that electricity can easily pass through. This atom-thick conductive material could be used to make exceptionally light electronic devices, like phones or TV screens. These types of products will become commercially available in less than five years according to Xie.

A close-up of a small region of the first several top layers of a 3D-printed sheet of hyperelastic bone.

Scientists could also make use of these fabrics to track the change in objects and even microscopic life.

“We are making an ultra-thin, light, and flexible [strain-sensing fabric] which can emit light,” said Xie. “The idea is that you can put these fabrics on any object to monitor its mechanical status by looking at the color of light emitted from the fabrics. In fact, these atomic fabrics are so thin that you can potentially put them on a cell and monitor how [it] expands or shrinks.”

These types of applications weren’t possible before because other techniques used to fuse materials at an atomic level would always leave tiny holes in the final produce, almost like a knitted sweater. Xie’s team results are the most perfectly aligned single-layer materials ever made.

With this technique under their belts, engineers can get wildly creative with embedding electronics on almost any surface. This leaves the door open to sleek touch screens on clothing or even phones as thin as a sheet of paper.

The most fun thing about betting on sports — besides winning in the final seconds — is placing a prop bet. There’s nothing a weird and wild wager to take the edge off a more serious, analytical prediction. Regular gambling enthusiasts will often describe prop bets as having “juiced” odds, in that they are long — too long, some say — to be worth it. Sure, proposition bets have longer odds, but the payouts are higher, making them enticing to both bettors and bookies.

I once had a professor in college who said the best way not to lose things is to buy an expensive version of them. Pens, umbrellas, sunglasses, and so on. We’re ostensibly more inclined to keep track of and protect our items if they hold a high value.

Time and time again, I have proven this theory to be utter bunk. Know how many pairs of Ray-Bans I’ve left in dive bars? Two. Know how many pairs I’ve left in the Kips Bay AMC movie theater? One. That is too many and even if I deserve to have lost them for being an idiotI sometimes wonder if I should just buy a cheap pair of sunglasses and leave them wherever I please within two weeks of owning them.

The competition to develop the first widely used commercial electric semi is heating up: This week Volvo unveiled their take on the future of trucking, an fully autonomous alternative to the all-electric Tesla Semi. The new truck, dubbed Vera, will be autonomous enough to operate without any sort of cabin at all, and instead will be navigated by a cloud service linked into a control center, with fully autonomous driving and navigation capabilities.

Wi-Charge wants to end smartphone battery anxiety. The company says it has developed a system of infrared beams that provides power to multiple gadgets in a room, abolishing the rush for a cable and paving the way for new types of products.

“You can now have infrared technology that charges phones without having to place it on the charging pads or using a charging cable,” Ori Mor, founder and vice president of research and development for Wi-Charge, tells Inverse. “Instead of me leaving home and all day having to manage my battery saying, ‘Oh, am I out of battery, when, when is the next time I’m going to see a charger, oh, I’m going to an airport, where can I find a power outlet…’ All of a sudden, if I just place my phone on the kitchen counter, or a coffee table or a conference room table, I get positive battery charge. That is a big change in terms of battery anxiety.”

Apple’s signature wireless earbuds turn two this year. The arguably controversial product drew flak over the decision to ditch the headphone jack with the launch of the iPhone 7 entirely, forcing users to buy the $159 pair of earphones or use a dongle. But despite their rough first impression, they’ve consistently sold out. But as Apple tries to sell users on a completely wireless future, they’ve failed to deliver on the quality anyone in the market for a high-end pair of headphones is going to be looking for.