The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering is the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual origins of materials science stem from the Enlightenment, when researchers began to use analytical thinking from chemistry, physics, and engineering to understand ancient, phenomenological observations in metallurgy and mineralogy. Materials science still incorporates elements of physics, chemistry, and engineering. As such, the field was long considered by academic institutions as a sub-field of these related fields. Beginning in the 1940s, materials science began to be more widely recognized as a specific and distinct field of science and engineering, and major technical universities around the world created dedicated schools of the study, within either the Science or Engineering schools, hence the naming.
Many of the most pressing scientific problems humans currently face are due to the limits of the materials that are available and how they are used. Thus, breakthroughs in materials science are likely to affect the future of technology significantly.
Materials scientists emphasize understanding how the history of a material (its processing) influences its structure, and thus the material's properties and performance. The understanding of processing-structure-properties relationships is called the § materials paradigm. This paradigm is used to advance understanding in a variety of research areas, including nanotechnology, biomaterials, and metallurgy. Materials science is also an important part of forensic engineering and failure analysis – investigating materials, products, structures or components which fail or do not function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property. Such investigations are key to understanding, for example, the causes of various aviation accidents and incidents.
The material of choice of a given era is often a defining point. Phrases such as Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Steel Age are historic, if arbitrary examples. Originally deriving from the manufacture of ceramics and its putative derivative metallurgy, materials science is one of the oldest forms of engineering and applied science. Modern materials science evolved directly from metallurgy, which itself evolved from mining and (likely) ceramics and earlier from the use of fire. A major breakthrough in the understanding of materials occurred in the late 19th century, when the American scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs demonstrated that the thermodynamic properties related to atomic structure in various phases are related to the physical properties of a material. Important elements of modern materials science are a product of the space race: the understanding and engineering of the metallic alloys, and silica and carbon materials, used in building space vehicles enabling the exploration of space. Materials science has driven, and been driven by, the development of revolutionary technologies such as rubbers, plastics, semiconductors, and biomaterials.
Before the 1960s (and in some cases decades after), many eventual materials science departments were metallurgy or ceramics engineering departments, reflecting the 19th and early 20th century emphasis on metals and ceramics. The growth of materials science in the United States was catalyzed in part by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which funded a series of university-hosted laboratories in the early 1960s "to expand the national program of basic research and training in the materials sciences." The field has since broadened to include every class of materials, including ceramics, polymers, semiconductors, magnetic materials, biomaterials, and nanomaterials, generally classified into three distinct groups: ceramics, metals, and polymers. The prominent change in materials science during the recent decades is active usage of computer simulations to find new materials, predict properties, and understand phenomena.
A material is defined as a substance (most often a solid, but other condensed phases can be included) that is intended to be used for certain applications. There are a myriad of materials around us—they can be found in anything from buildings to spacecraft. Materials can generally be further divided into two classes: crystalline and non-crystalline. The traditional examples of materials are metals, semiconductors, ceramics and polymers. New and advanced materials that are being developed include nanomaterials, biomaterials, and energy materials to name a few.
The basis of materials science involves studying the structure of materials, and relating them to their properties. Once a materials scientist knows about this structure-property correlation, they can then go on to study the relative performance of a material in a given application. The major determinants of the structure of a material and thus of its properties are its constituent chemical elements and the way in which it has been processed into its final form. These characteristics, taken together and related through the laws of thermodynamics and kinetics, govern a material's microstructure, and thus its properties.
As mentioned above, structure is one of the most important components of the field of materials science. Materials science examines the structure of materials from the atomic scale, all the way up to the macro scale. Characterization is the way materials scientists examine the structure of a material. This involves methods such as diffraction with X-rays, electrons, or neutrons, and various forms of spectroscopy and chemical analysis such as Raman spectroscopy, energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), chromatography, thermal analysis, electron microscope analysis, etc. Structure is studied at various levels, as detailed below.
This deals with the atoms of the materials, and how they are arranged to give molecules, crystals, etc. Much of the electrical, magnetic and chemical properties of materials arise from this level of structure. The length scales involved are in angstroms(Å). The way in which the atoms and molecules are bonded and arranged is fundamental to studying the properties and behavior of any material.
Nanostructure deals with objects and structures that are in the 1–100 nm range. In many materials, atoms or molecules agglomerate together to form objects at the nanoscale. This causes many interesting electrical, magnetic, optical, and mechanical properties.
In describing nanostructures it is necessary to differentiate between the number of dimensions on the nanoscale. Nanotextured surfaces have one dimension on the nanoscale, i.e., only the thickness of the surface of an object is between 0.1 and 100 nm. Nanotubes have two dimensions on the nanoscale, i.e., the diameter of the tube is between 0.1 and 100 nm; its length could be much greater. Finally, spherical nanoparticles have three dimensions on the nanoscale, i.e., the particle is between 0.1 and 100 nm in each spatial dimension. The terms nanoparticles and ultrafine particles (UFP) often are used synonymously although UFP can reach into the micrometre range. The term 'nanostructure' is often used when referring to magnetic technology. Nanoscale structure in biology is often called ultrastructure.
Materials which atoms and molecules form constituents in the nanoscale (i.e., they form nanostructure) are called nanomaterials. Nanomaterials are subject of intense research in the materials science community due to the unique properties that they exhibit.
Microstructure is defined as the structure of a prepared surface or thin foil of material as revealed by a microscope above 25× magnification. It deals with objects from 100 nm to a few cm. The microstructure of a material (which can be broadly classified into metallic, polymeric, ceramic and composite) can strongly influence physical properties such as strength, toughness, ductility, hardness, corrosion resistance, high/low temperature behavior, wear resistance, and so on. Most of the traditional materials (such as metals and ceramics) are microstructured.
The manufacture of a perfect crystal of a material is physically impossible. For example, any crystalline material will contain defects such as precipitates, grain boundaries (Hall–Petch relationship), vacancies, interstitial atoms or substitutional atoms. The microstructure of materials reveals these larger defects, so that they can be studied, with significant advances in simulation resulting in exponentially increasing understanding of how defects can be used to enhance material properties.
Macro structure is the appearance of a material in the scale millimeters to meters—it is the structure of the material as seen with the naked eye.
Crystallography is the science that examines the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids. Crystallography is a useful tool for materials scientists. In single crystals, the effects of the crystalline arrangement of atoms is often easy to see macroscopically, because the natural shapes of crystals reflect the atomic structure. Further, physical properties are often controlled by crystalline defects. The understanding of crystal structures is an important prerequisite for understanding crystallographic defects. Mostly, materials do not occur as a single crystal, but in polycrystalline form, i.e., as an aggregate of small crystals with different orientations. Because of this, the powder diffraction method, which uses diffraction patterns of polycrystalline samples with a large number of crystals, plays an important role in structural determination. Most materials have a crystalline structure, but some important materials do not exhibit regular crystal structure. Polymers display varying degrees of crystallinity, and many are completely noncrystalline. Glass, some ceramics, and many natural materials are amorphous, not possessing any long-range order in their atomic arrangements. The study of polymers combines elements of chemical and statistical thermodynamics to give thermodynamic and mechanical, descriptions of physical properties.
To obtain a full understanding of the material structure and how it relates to its properties, the materials scientist must study how the different atoms, ions and molecules are arranged and bonded to each other. This involves the study and use of quantum chemistry or quantum physics. Solid-state physics, solid-state chemistry and physical chemistry are also involved in the study of bonding and structure.
Materials exhibit myriad properties, including the following.
The properties of a material determine its usability and hence its engineering application.
Synthesis and processing involves the creation of a material with the desired micro-nanostructure. From an engineering standpoint, a material cannot be used in industry if no economical production method for it has been developed. Thus, the processing of materials is vital to the field of materials science.
Different materials require different processing or synthesis methods. For example, the processing of metals has historically been very important and is studied under the branch of materials science named physical metallurgy. Also, chemical and physical methods are also used to synthesize other materials such as polymers, ceramics, thin films, etc. As of the early 21st century, new methods are being developed to synthesize nanomaterials such as graphene.
Thermodynamics is concerned with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work. It defines macroscopic variables, such as internal energy, entropy, and pressure, that partly describe a body of matter or radiation. It states that the behavior of those variables is subject to general constraints, that are common to all materials, not the peculiar properties of particular materials. These general constraints are expressed in the four laws of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics describes the bulk behavior of the body, not the microscopic behaviors of the very large numbers of its microscopic constituents, such as molecules. The behavior of these microscopic particles is described by, and the laws of thermodynamics are derived from, statistical mechanics.
The study of thermodynamics is fundamental to materials science. It forms the foundation to treat general phenomena in materials science and engineering, including chemical reactions, magnetism, polarizability, and elasticity. It also helps in the understanding of phase diagrams and phase equilibrium.
Chemical kinetics is the study of the rates at which systems that are out of equilibrium change under the influence of various forces. When applied to materials science, it deals with how a material changes with time (moves from non-equilibrium to equilibrium state) due to application of a certain field. It details the rate of various processes evolving in materials including shape, size, composition and structure. Diffusion is important in the study of kinetics as this is the most common mechanism by which materials undergo change.
Kinetics is essential in processing of materials because, among other things, it details how the microstructure changes with application of heat.
Materials science has received much attention from researchers. In most universities, many departments ranging from physics to chemistry to chemical engineering, along with materials science departments, are involved in materials research. Research in materials science is vibrant and consists of many avenues. The following list is in no way exhaustive. It serves only to highlight certain important research areas.
Nanomaterials describe, in principle, materials of which a single unit is sized (in at least one dimension) between 1 and 1000 nanometers (10−9 meter) but is usually 1–100 nm.
Nanomaterials research takes a materials science-based approach to nanotechnology, leveraging advances in materials metrology and synthesis which have been developed in support of microfabrication research. Materials with structure at the nanoscale often have unique optical, electronic, or mechanical properties.
The field of nanomaterials is loosely organized, like the traditional field of chemistry, into organic (carbon-based) nanomaterials such as fullerenes, and inorganic nanomaterials based on other elements, such as silicon. Examples of nanomaterials include fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, nanocrystals, etc.
A biomaterial is any matter, surface, or construct that interacts with biological systems. The study of biomaterials is called bio materials science. It has experienced steady and strong growth over its history, with many companies investing large amounts of money into developing new products. Biomaterials science encompasses elements of medicine, biology, chemistry, tissue engineering, and materials science.
Biomaterials can be derived either from nature or synthesized in a laboratory using a variety of chemical approaches using metallic components, polymers, bioceramics, or composite materials. They are often used and/or adapted for a medical application, and thus comprises whole or part of a living structure or biomedical device which performs, augments, or replaces a natural function. Such functions may be benign, like being used for a heart valve, or may be bioactive with a more interactive functionality such as hydroxylapatite coated hip implants. Biomaterials are also used every day in dental applications, surgery, and drug delivery. For example, a construct with impregnated pharmaceutical products can be placed into the body, which permits the prolonged release of a drug over an extended period of time. A biomaterial may also be an autograft, allograft or xenograft used as an organ transplant material.
Semiconductors, metals, and ceramics are used today to form highly complex systems, such as integrated electronic circuits, optoelectronic devices, and magnetic and optical mass storage media. These materials form the basis of our modern computing world, and hence research into these materials is of vital importance.
Semiconductors are a traditional example of these types of materials. They are materials that have properties that are intermediate between conductors and insulators. Their electrical conductivities are very sensitive to impurity concentrations, and this allows for the use of doping to achieve desirable electronic properties. Hence, semiconductors form the basis of the traditional computer.
This field also includes new areas of research such as superconducting materials, spintronics, metamaterials, etc. The study of these materials involves knowledge of materials science and solid-state physics or condensed matter physics.
With continuing increases in computing power, simulating the behavior of materials has become possible. This enables materials scientists to understand behavior and mechanisms, explain properties formerly poorly understood, and even to design new materials. Efforts surrounding Integrated computational materials engineering are now focusing on combining computational methods with experiments to drastically reduce the time and effort to optimize materials properties for a given application. This involves simulating materials at all length scales, using methods such as density functional theory, molecular dynamics, Monte Carlo algorithm, dislocation dynamics, Phase field models, Finite element method, and many more.
Radical materials advances can drive the creation of new products or even new industries, but stable industries also employ materials scientists to make incremental improvements and troubleshoot issues with currently used materials. Industrial applications of materials science include materials design, cost-benefit tradeoffs in industrial production of materials, processing methods (casting, rolling, welding, ion implantation, crystal growth, thin-film deposition, sintering, glassblowing, etc.), and analytic methods (characterization methods such as electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, calorimetry, nuclear microscopy (HEFIB), Rutherford backscattering, neutron diffraction, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), etc.).
Besides material characterization, the material scientist or engineer also deals with extracting materials and converting them into useful forms. Thus ingot casting, foundry methods, blast furnace extraction, and electrolytic extraction are all part of the required knowledge of a materials engineer. Often the presence, absence, or variation of minute quantities of secondary elements and compounds in a bulk material will greatly affect the final properties of the materials produced. For example, steels are classified based on 1/10 and 1/100 weight percentages of the carbon and other alloying elements they contain. Thus, the extracting and purifying methods used to extract iron in a blast furnace can affect the quality of steel that is produced.
Another application of material science is the structures of ceramics and glass typically associated with the most brittle materials. Bonding in ceramics and glasses uses covalent and ionic-covalent types with SiO2 (silica or sand) as a fundamental building block. Ceramics are as soft as clay or as hard as stone and concrete. Usually, they are crystalline in form. Most glasses contain a metal oxide fused with silica. At high temperatures used to prepare glass, the material is a viscous liquid. The structure of glass forms into an amorphous state upon cooling. Windowpanes and eyeglasses are important examples. Fibers of glass are also available. Scratch resistant Corning Gorilla Glass is a well-known example of the application of materials science to drastically improve the properties of common components. Diamond and carbon in its graphite form are considered to be ceramics.
Engineering ceramics are known for their stiffness and stability under high temperatures, compression and electrical stress. Alumina, silicon carbide, and tungsten carbide are made from a fine powder of their constituents in a process of sintering with a binder. Hot pressing provides higher density material. Chemical vapor deposition can place a film of a ceramic on another material. Cermets are ceramic particles containing some metals. The wear resistance of tools is derived from cemented carbides with the metal phase of cobalt and nickel typically added to modify properties.
Another application of materials science in industry is making composite materials. These are structured materials composed of two or more macroscopic phases. Applications range from structural elements such as steel-reinforced concrete, to the thermal insulating tiles which play a key and integral role in NASA's Space Shuttle thermal protection system which is used to protect the surface of the shuttle from the heat of re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. One example is reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC), the light gray material which withstands re-entry temperatures up to 1,510 °C (2,750 °F) and protects the Space Shuttle's wing leading edges and nose cap. RCC is a laminated composite material made from graphite rayon cloth and impregnated with a phenolic resin. After curing at high temperature in an autoclave, the laminate is pyrolized to convert the resin to carbon, impregnated with furfural alcohol in a vacuum chamber, and cured-pyrolized to convert the furfural alcohol to carbon. To provide oxidation resistance for reuse ability, the outer layers of the RCC are converted to silicon carbide.
Other examples can be seen in the "plastic" casings of television sets, cell-phones and so on. These plastic casings are usually a composite material made up of a thermoplastic matrix such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) in which calcium carbonate chalk, talc, glass fibers or carbon fibers have been added for added strength, bulk, or electrostatic dispersion. These additions may be termed reinforcing fibers, or dispersants, depending on their purpose.
Polymers are chemical compounds made up of a large number of identical components linked together like chains. They are an important part of materials science. Polymers are the raw materials (the resins) used to make what are commonly called plastics and rubber. Plastics and rubber are really the final product, created after one or more polymers or additives have been added to a resin during processing, which is then shaped into a final form. Plastics which have been around, and which are in current widespread use, include polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene, nylons, polyesters, acrylics, polyurethanes, and polycarbonates and also rubbers which have been around are natural rubber, styrene-butadiene rubber, chloroprene, and butadiene rubber. Plastics are generally classified as commodity, specialty and engineering plastics.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is widely used, inexpensive, and annual production quantities are large. It lends itself to a vast array of applications, from artificial leather to electrical insulation and cabling, packaging, and containers. Its fabrication and processing are simple and well-established. The versatility of PVC is due to the wide range of plasticisers and other additives that it accepts. The term "additives" in polymer science refers to the chemicals and compounds added to the polymer base to modify its material properties.
Polycarbonate would be normally considered an engineering plastic (other examples include PEEK, ABS). Such plastics are valued for their superior strengths and other special material properties. They are usually not used for disposable applications, unlike commodity plastics.
Specialty plastics are materials with unique characteristics, such as ultra-high strength, electrical conductivity, electro-fluorescence, high thermal stability, etc.
The dividing lines between the various types of plastics is not based on material but rather on their properties and applications. For example, polyethylene (PE) is a cheap, low friction polymer commonly used to make disposable bags for shopping and trash, and is considered a commodity plastic, whereas medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) is used for underground gas and water pipes, and another variety called ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is an engineering plastic which is used extensively as the glide rails for industrial equipment and the low-friction socket in implanted hip joints.
The study of metal alloys is a significant part of materials science. Of all the metallic alloys in use today, the alloys of iron (steel, stainless steel, cast iron, tool steel, alloy steels) make up the largest proportion both by quantity and commercial value. Iron alloyed with various proportions of carbon gives low, mid and high carbon steels. An iron-carbon alloy is only considered steel if the carbon level is between 0.01% and 2.00%. For the steels, the hardness and tensile strength of the steel is related to the amount of carbon present, with increasing carbon levels also leading to lower ductility and toughness. Heat treatment processes such as quenching and tempering can significantly change these properties, however. Cast Iron is defined as an iron–carbon alloy with more than 2.00% but less than 6.67% carbon. Stainless steel is defined as a regular steel alloy with greater than 10% by weight alloying content of Chromium. Nickel and Molybdenum are typically also found in stainless steels.
Other significant metallic alloys are those of aluminium, titanium, copper and magnesium. Copper alloys have been known for a long time (since the Bronze Age), while the alloys of the other three metals have been relatively recently developed. Due to the chemical reactivity of these metals, the electrolytic extraction processes required were only developed relatively recently. The alloys of aluminium, titanium and magnesium are also known and valued for their high strength-to-weight ratios and, in the case of magnesium, their ability to provide electromagnetic shielding. These materials are ideal for situations where high strength-to-weight ratios are more important than bulk cost, such as in the aerospace industry and certain automotive engineering applications.
The study of semiconductors is a significant part of materials science. A semiconductor is a material that has a resistivity between a metal and insulator. Its electronic properties can be greatly altered through intentionally introducing impurities or doping. From these semiconductor materials, things such as diodes, transistors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and analog and digital electric circuits can be built, making them materials of interest in industry. Semiconductor devices have replaced thermionic devices (vacuum tubes) in most applications. Semiconductor devices are manufactured both as single discrete devices and as integrated circuits (ICs), which consist of a number—from a few to millions—of devices manufactured and interconnected on a single semiconductor substrate.
Of all the semiconductors in use today, silicon makes up the largest portion both by quantity and commercial value. Monocrystalline silicon is used to produce wafers used in the semiconductor and electronics industry. Second to silicon, gallium arsenide (GaAs) is the second most popular semiconductor used. Due to its higher electron mobility and saturation velocity compared to silicon, it is a material of choice for high-speed electronics applications. These superior properties are compelling reasons to use GaAs circuitry in mobile phones, satellite communications, microwave point-to-point links and higher frequency radar systems. Other semiconductor materials include germanium, silicon carbide, and gallium nitride and have various applications.
Materials science evolved—starting from the 1950s—because it was recognized that to create, discover and design new materials, one had to approach it in a unified manner. Thus, materials science and engineering emerged in many ways: renaming and/or combining existing metallurgy and ceramics engineering departments; splitting from existing solid state physics research, itself growing into condensed matter physics); pulling in relatively new polymer engineering and polymer science; recombining from the previous, as well as chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering; and more.
The field is inherently interdisciplinary, and the materials scientists/engineers must be aware and make use of the methods of the physicist, chemist and engineer. The field thus maintains close relationships with these fields. Also, many physicists, chemists and engineers also find themselves working in materials science.
The field of materials science and engineering is important both from a scientific perspective, as well as from an engineering one. When discovering new materials, one encounters new phenomena that may not have been observed before. Hence, there is a lot of science to be discovered when working with materials. Materials science also provides a test for theories in condensed matter physics.
Materials are of the utmost importance for engineers, as the usage of the appropriate materials is crucial when designing systems. As a result, materials science is an increasingly important part of an engineer's education.
|Emerging technology||Status||Potentially marginalized technologies||Potential applications||Related articles|
|Aerogel||Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses||Traditional insulation, glass||Improved insulation, insulative glass if it can be made clear, sleeves for oil pipelines, aerospace, high-heat & extreme cold applications|
|Conductive polymers||Research, experiments, prototypes||Conductors||Lighter and cheaper wires, antistatic materials, organic solar cells|
|Femtotechnology, picotechnology||Hypothetical||Present nuclear||New materials; nuclear weapons, power|
|Fullerene||Experiments, diffusion||Synthetic diamond and carbon nanotubes (e.g., Buckypaper)||Programmable matter|
|Graphene||Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses||Silicon-based integrated circuit||Components with higher strength to weight ratios, transistors that operate at higher frequency, lower cost of display screens in mobile devices, storing hydrogen for fuel cell powered cars, filtration systems, longer-lasting and faster-charging batteries, sensors to diagnose diseases||Potential applications of graphene|
|High-temperature superconductivity||Cryogenic receiver front-end (CRFE) RF and microwave filter systems for mobile phone base stations; prototypes in dry ice; Hypothetical and experiments for higher temperatures||Copper wire, semiconductor integral circuits||No loss conductors, frictionless bearings, magnetic levitation, lossless high-capacity accumulators, electric cars, heat-free integral circuits and processors|
|LiTraCon||Experiments, already used to make Europe Gate||Glass||Building skyscrapers, towers, and sculptures like Europe Gate|
|Metamaterials||Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion||Classical optics||Microscopes, cameras, metamaterial cloaking, cloaking devices|
|Metal foam||Research, commercialization||Hulls||Space colonies, floating cities|
|Multi-function structures||Hypothetical, experiments, some prototypes, few commercial||Composite materials mostly||Wide range, e.g., self health monitoring, self healing material, morphing, ...|
|Nanomaterials: carbon nanotubes||Hypothetical, experiments, diffusion, early uses||Structural steel and aluminium||Stronger, lighter materials, space elevator||Potential applications of carbon nanotubes, carbon fiber|
|Programmable matter||Hypothetical, experiments||Coatings, catalysts||Wide range, e.g., claytronics, synthetic biology|
|Quantum dots||Research, experiments, prototypes||LCD, LED||Quantum dot laser, future use as programmable matter in display technologies (TV, projection), optical data communications (high-speed data transmission), medicine (laser scalpel)|
|Silicene||Hypothetical, research||Field-effect transistors|
|Superalloy||Research, diffusion||Aluminum, titanium, composite materials||Aircraft jet engines|
|Synthetic diamond||early uses (drill bits, jewelry)||Silicon transistors||Electronics|
A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant plastic deformation. Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength. Breaking is often accompanied by a snapping sound. Brittle materials include most ceramics and glasses (which do not deform plastically) and some polymers, such as PMMA and polystyrene. Many steels become brittle at low temperatures (see ductile-brittle transition temperature), depending on their composition and processing.
When used in materials science, it is generally applied to materials that fail when there is little or no plastic deformation before failure. One proof is to match the broken halves, which should fit exactly since no plastic deformation has occurred.
When a material has reached the limit of its strength, it usually has the option of either deformation or fracture. A naturally malleable metal can be made stronger by impeding the mechanisms of plastic deformation (reducing grain size, precipitation hardening, work hardening, etc.), but if this is taken to an extreme, fracture becomes the more likely outcome, and the material can become brittle. Improving material toughness is therefore a balancing act.Coordination number
In chemistry, crystallography, and materials science, the coordination number, also called ligancy, of a central atom in a molecule or crystal is the number of atoms, molecules or ions bonded to it. The ion/molecule/atom surrounding the central ion/molecule/atom is called a ligand. This number is determined somewhat differently for molecules than for crystals.
For molecules and polyatomic ions the coordination number of an atom is determined by simply counting the other atoms to which it is bonded (by either single or multiple bonds). For example, [Cr(NH3)2Cl2Br2]− has Cr3+ as its central cation, which has a coordination number of 6 and is described as hexacoordinate.
However the solid-state structures of crystals often have less clearly defined bonds, and in these cases a count of neighboring atoms is employed. The simplest method is one used in materials science. The usual value of the coordination number for a given structure refers to an atom in the interior of a crystal lattice with neighbors in all directions. In contexts where crystal surfaces are important, such as materials science and heterogeneous catalysis, the number of neighbors of an interior atom is the bulk coordination number, while the number of surface neighbors of an atom at the surface of the crystal is the surface coordination number.Corundum
Corundum is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide (Al2O3) typically containing traces of iron, titanium, vanadium and chromium. It is a rock-forming mineral. It is also a naturally transparent material, but can have different colors depending on the presence of transition metal impurities in its crystalline structure. Corundum has two primary gem varieties: ruby and sapphire. Rubies are red due to the presence of chromium, and sapphires exhibit a range of colors depending on what transition metal is present. A rare type of sapphire, padparadscha sapphire, is pink-orange.
The name "corundum" is derived from the Tamil word kurundam, which in turn derives from the Sanskrit kuruvinda.Because of corundum's hardness (pure corundum is defined to have 9.0 on the Mohs scale), it can scratch almost every other mineral. It is commonly used as an abrasive on everything from sandpaper to large tools used in machining metals, plastics, and wood. Some emery is a mix of corundum and other substances, and the mix is less abrasive, with an average Mohs hardness of 8.0.
In addition to its hardness, corundum has a density of 4.02 g/cm3 (251 lb/cu ft), which is unusually high for a transparent mineral composed of the low-atomic mass elements aluminium and oxygen.Crystallography
Crystallography is the experimental science of determining the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids (see crystal structure). The word "crystallography" derives from the Greek words crystallon "cold drop, frozen drop", with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and graphein "to write". In July 2012, the United Nations recognised the importance of the science of crystallography by proclaiming that 2014 would be the International Year of Crystallography. X-ray crystallography is used to determine the structure of large biomolecules such as proteins.
Before the development of X-ray diffraction crystallography (see below), the study of crystals was based on physical measurements of their geometry. This involved measuring the angles of crystal faces relative to each other and to theoretical reference axes (crystallographic axes), and establishing the symmetry of the crystal in question. This physical measurement is carried out using a goniometer. The position in 3D space of each crystal face is plotted on a stereographic net such as a Wulff net or Lambert net. The pole to each face is plotted on the net. Each point is labelled with its Miller index. The final plot allows the symmetry of the crystal to be established.
Crystallographic methods now depend on analysis of the diffraction patterns of a sample targeted by a beam of some type. X-rays are most commonly used; other beams used include electrons or neutrons. This is facilitated by the wave properties of the particles. Crystallographers often explicitly state the type of beam used, as in the terms X-ray crystallography, neutron diffraction and electron diffraction. These three types of radiation interact with the specimen in different ways.
X-rays interact with the spatial distribution of electrons in the sample.
Electrons are charged particles and therefore interact with the total charge distribution of both the atomic nuclei and the electrons of the sample.
Neutrons are scattered by the atomic nuclei through the strong nuclear forces, but in addition, the magnetic moment of neutrons is non-zero. They are therefore also scattered by magnetic fields. When neutrons are scattered from hydrogen-containing materials, they produce diffraction patterns with high noise levels. However, the material can sometimes be treated to substitute deuterium for hydrogen.Because of these different forms of interaction, the three types of radiation are suitable for different crystallographic studies.Deformation (mechanics)
Deformation in continuum mechanics is the transformation of a body from a reference configuration to a current configuration. A configuration is a set containing the positions of all particles of the body.
A deformation may be caused by external loads, body forces (such as gravity or electromagnetic forces), or changes in temperature, moisture content, or chemical reactions, etc.
Strain is a description of deformation in terms of relative displacement of particles in the body that excludes rigid-body motions. Different equivalent choices may be made for the expression of a strain field depending on whether it is defined with respect to the initial or the final configuration of the body and on whether the metric tensor or its dual is considered.
In a continuous body, a deformation field results from a stress field induced by applied forces or is due to changes in the temperature field inside the body. The relation between stresses and induced strains is expressed by constitutive equations, e.g., Hooke's law for linear elastic materials. Deformations which are recovered after the stress field has been removed are called elastic deformations. In this case, the continuum completely recovers its original configuration. On the other hand, irreversible deformations remain even after stresses have been removed. One type of irreversible deformation is plastic deformation, which occurs in material bodies after stresses have attained a certain threshold value known as the elastic limit or yield stress, and are the result of slip, or dislocation mechanisms at the atomic level. Another type of irreversible deformation is viscous deformation, which is the irreversible part of viscoelastic deformation.
In the case of elastic deformations, the response function linking strain to the deforming stress is the compliance tensor of the material.Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, University of Cambridge
The Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy (DMSM) is a large research and teaching division of the University of Cambridge. Since 2013 it has been located in West Cambridge., having previously occupied several buildings on the New Museums Site in the centre of Cambridge.Dragontrail
Dragontrail, manufactured by Asahi Glass Co., is an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass engineered for a combination of thinness, lightness and damage-resistance, similar to Corning's proprietary Gorilla Glass. The material's primary properties are its strength, allowing thin glass without fragility; its high scratch resistance; and its hardness – with a Vickers hardness test rating of 595 to 673.Evaporation
Evaporation is a type of vaporization that occurs on the surface of a liquid as it changes into the gas phase. The surrounding gas must not be saturated with the evaporating substance. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other based on how they collide with each other. When a molecule near the surface absorbs enough energy to overcome the vapor pressure, it will escape and enter the surrounding air as a gas. When evaporation occurs, the energy removed from the vaporized liquid will reduce the temperature of the liquid, resulting in evaporative cooling.On average, only a fraction of the molecules in a liquid have enough heat energy to escape from the liquid. The evaporation will continue until an equilibrium is reached when the evaporation of the liquid is equal to its condensation. In an enclosed environment, a liquid will evaporate until the surrounding air is saturated.
Evaporation is an essential part of the water cycle. The sun (solar energy) drives evaporation of water from oceans, lakes, moisture in the soil, and other sources of water. In hydrology, evaporation and transpiration (which involves evaporation within plant stomata) are collectively termed evapotranspiration. Evaporation of water occurs when the surface of the liquid is exposed, allowing molecules to escape and form water vapor; this vapor can then rise up and form clouds. With sufficient energy, the liquid will turn into vapor.Hardness
Hardness is a measure of the resistance to localized plastic deformation induced by either mechanical indentation or abrasion. Some materials (e.g. metals) are harder than others (e.g. plastics, wood). Macroscopic hardness is generally characterized by strong intermolecular bonds, but the behavior of solid materials under force is complex; therefore, there are different measurements of hardness: scratch hardness, indentation hardness, and rebound hardness.
Hardness is dependent on ductility, elastic stiffness, plasticity, strain, strength, toughness, viscoelasticity, and viscosity.
Common examples of hard matter are ceramics, concrete, certain metals, and superhard materials, which can be contrasted with soft matter.History of materials science
Materials science has shaped the development of civilizations since the dawn of mankind. Better materials for tools and weapons has allowed mankind to spread and conquer, and advancements in material processing like steel and aluminum production continue to impact society today. Historians have regarded materials as such an important aspect of civilizations such that entire periods of time have defined by the predominant material used (Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, etc.). For most of recorded history, control of materials had been through alchemy or empirical means at best. The study and development of chemistry and physics assisted the study of materials, and eventually the interdisciplinary study of materials science emerged from the fusion of these studies. The history of materials science is the study of how different materials were used and developed through the history of Earth and how those materials affected the culture of the peoples of the Earth.Materials physics
Material physics is the use of physics to describe the physical properties of materials. It is a synthesis of physical sciences such as chemistry, solid mechanics, solid state physics, and materials science. Materials physics is considered a subset of condensed matter physics and applies fundamental condensed matter concepts to complex multiphase media, including materials of technological interest.
Current fields that materials physicists work in include electronic, optical, and magnetic materials, novel materials and structures, quantum phenomena in materials, nonequilibrium physics, and soft condensed matter physics. New experimental and computational tools are constantly improving how materials systems are modeled and studied and are also fields when materials physicists work in.Mohs scale of mineral hardness
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness () is a qualitative ordinal scale characterizing scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of harder material to scratch softer material. Created in 1812 by German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, it is one of several definitions of hardness in materials science, some of which are more quantitative. The method of comparing hardness by observing which minerals can scratch others is of great antiquity, having been mentioned by Theophrastus in his treatise On Stones, c. 300 BC, followed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, c. AD 77. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.Phase diagram
For the use of this term in mathematics and physics, see phase space.A phase diagram in physical chemistry, engineering, mineralogy, and materials science is a type of chart used to show conditions (pressure, temperature, volume, etc.) at which thermodynamically distinct phases (such as solid, liquid or gaseous states) occur and coexist at equilibrium.Polymer science
Polymer science or macromolecular science is a subfield of materials science concerned with polymers, primarily synthetic polymers such as plastics and elastomers. The field of polymer science includes researchers in multiple disciplines including chemistry, physics, and engineering.Polymorphism (materials science)
In materials science, polymorphism is the ability of a solid material to exist in more than one form or crystal structure. Polymorphism can potentially be found in any crystalline material including polymers, minerals, and metals, and is related to allotropy, which refers to chemical elements. The complete morphology of a material is described by polymorphism and other variables such as crystal habit, amorphous fraction or crystallographic defects. Polymorphism is relevant to the fields of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, pigments, dyestuffs, foods, and explosives.
When polymorphism exists as a result of a difference in crystal packing, it is called packing polymorphism. Polymorphism can also result from the existence of different conformers of the same molecule in conformational polymorphism. In pseudopolymorphism the different crystal types are the result of hydration or solvation. This is more correctly referred to as solvomorphism as different solvates have different chemical formulae. An example of an organic polymorph is glycine, which is able to form monoclinic and hexagonal crystals. Silica is known to form many polymorphs, the most important of which are; α-quartz, β-quartz, tridymite, cristobalite, moganite, coesite, and stishovite. A classical example is the pair of minerals, calcite and aragonite, both forms of calcium carbonate.
An analogous phenomenon for amorphous materials is polyamorphism, when a substance can take on several different amorphous modifications.Shear modulus
In materials science, shear modulus or modulus of rigidity, denoted by G, or sometimes S or μ, is defined as the ratio of shear stress to the shear strain:
The derived SI unit of shear modulus is the pascal (Pa), although it is usually expressed in gigapascals (GPa) or in thousands of pounds per square inch (ksi). Its dimensional form is M1L−1T−2, replacing force by mass times acceleration.
Solid-state chemistry, also sometimes referred as materials chemistry, is the study of the synthesis, structure, and properties of solid phase materials, particularly, but not necessarily exclusively of, non-molecular solids. It therefore has a strong overlap with solid-state physics, mineralogy, crystallography, ceramics, metallurgy, thermodynamics, materials science and electronics with a focus on the synthesis of novel materials and their characterisation. Solids can be classified as crystalline or amorphous on basis of the nature of order present in the arrangement of their constituent particles.Tenacity (mineralogy)
In mineralogy, tenacity is a mineral's behavior when deformed or broken.Toughness
In materials science and metallurgy, toughness is the ability of a material to absorb energy and plastically deform without fracturing. One definition of material toughness is the amount of energy per unit volume that a material can absorb before rupturing. It is also defined as a material's resistance to fracture when stressed.
Toughness requires a balance of strength and ductility.
Branches of chemistry
Glass science topics