The advertising buzz phrase state of the art began as a noun phrase referring to the current highest level of development in a field, but today it’s also often used as a phrasal adjective meaning at the highest level of development. In the latter use, state of the art is usually hyphenated. When the phrase functions as a noun phrase, it is unhyphenated.
In advertising and elsewhere, the phrase has been rendered almost meaningless through long overuse. In using it, one risks sounding like an uncreative salesperson.
Kurion has since improved both the material performance and also advanced the state of the art for vitrification with lower cost and higher throughput. [Forbes]
[I]t represents the state of the art in readiness for earthquake and tsunami disasters. [CNN]
Thousands of Costan Rican fans turned out for the reopening of a state-of-the-art football stadium donated by the Chinese government. [Guardian]
The institute’s state-of-the art seismic recording system will be used to map what lies beneath Christchurch. [Calgary Herald]
The $1 billion Rockport facility is a state-of-the-art plant built in 1997, the newspaper said. [AP]