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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Superacid  
  Smart acids that could be created to ignore particular compounds and dissolve others.  

It is not entirely clear how Kosko uses this term; there are actual compounds that are referred to as "superacids." A superacid is defined as a "medium having a high acidity, generally greater than that of 100 wt.% sulfuric acid." A compound is sold under the name "magic acid."

"Leaks!" Garcia said. "There are holes in the ship!"

Alvarez followed him to the door and stopped short. Dozens of small gray holes covered the aluminum deck of the green tanker. The holes grew as he watched. The holes dripped gray goo at their edges and left only empty space in their centers. The larger holes grew faster than the smaller ones…

Alvarez knew then that he was up against a superacid and that he would lose.

From Nanotime, by Bart Kosko.
Published by Avon Books in 1987
Additional resources -

In the book, it appears to be possible to design superacids to work on some materials and ignore others. The book demonstrates that such compounds are dangerous weapons outside the lab.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Nanotime
  More Ideas and Technology by Bart Kosko
  Tech news articles related to Nanotime
  Tech news articles related to works by Bart Kosko

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