By Deirdre Carroll: Senior Editor

Mad scientists, urban sophisticates, technophiles, industrialists, engineers and anyone who gets a kick out of the periodic table of elements.

WHAT: Carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the universe. It is present in all known life forms, in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element after oxygen, and it is the the chemical basis of all known life. Carbon fiber is a material consisting of minute fibers and composed mostly of carbon atoms that are bonded together in crystals. Knowing all this, it has taken eyewear manufacturers a shockingly long time to start using it in their designs! The properties of carbon fiber, such as high stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion, has made it very popular in the aerospace, civil engineering, military and motorsport fields. Now designers are appreciating these same traits in the construction of eyewear.

WEAR: (L to R) The Airlock Broadway frame, part of the brand’s Manhattan Collection from Marchon, adds an urban penache to the industrial textile. The Chanel 71001 sunglasses from Luxottica proves high-tech material can go glam in the form of an oversized round sun style with a carbon fiber front and metal temples with contrasting white temple tips. The Joe by Joseph Abboud JOE4016 from Altair adds a beautiful midnight blue hue to the carbon fiber to take the composited material popular in aviation to sophisticated new heights.

WHY: The strong, durable characteristics of carbon fiber make it naturally appealing to tech-oriented eyewear wearers, its position as a relatively expensive material appeals to the luxury eyewear segment, and the distinctive silvery, checked pattern of the material gives eyewear designs an urban, modern aesthetic.