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Material science


The interdisciplinarity field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, involves the discovery and design of new materials, with an emphasis on 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.

Many of the most pressing scientific problems humans currently face are due to the limits of the materials that are available. 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 which do not operate or 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 great 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 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.


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
Amorphous metal Experiments Kevlar Armor
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

Materials science is a syncretic discipline hybridizing metallurgy, ceramics, solid-state physics, and chemistry. It is the first example of a new academic discipline emerging by fusion rather than fission.
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  • Askeland, Donald R.; Pradeep P. Phulé (2005). The Science & Engineering of Materials (5th ed.). Thomson-Engineering. ISBN . 
  • Callister, Jr., William D. (2000). Materials Science and Engineering – An Introduction (5th ed.). John Wiley and Sons. ISBN . 
  • Eberhart, Mark (2003). Why Things Break: Understanding the World by the Way It Comes Apart. Harmony. ISBN . 
  • Gaskell, David R. (1995). Introduction to the Thermodynamics of Materials (4th ed.). Taylor and Francis Publishing. ISBN . 
  • González-Viñas, W. & Mancini, H.L. (2004). An Introduction to Materials Science. Princeton University Press. ISBN . 
  • Gordon, James Edward (1984). The New Science of Strong Materials or Why You Don't Fall Through the Floor (eissue ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN . 
  • Mathews, F.L. & Rawlings, R.D. (1999). Composite Materials: Engineering and Science. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN . 
  • Lewis, P.R.; Reynolds, K. & Gagg, C. (2003). Forensic Materials Engineering: Case Studies. Boca Raton: CRC Press. 
  • Wachtman, John B. (1996). Mechanical Properties of Ceramics. New York: Wiley-Interscience, John Wiley & Son's. ISBN . 
  • Walker, P., ed. (1993). Chambers Dictionary of Materials Science and Technology. Chambers Publishing. ISBN . 
  • Timeline of Materials Science at The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) – Accessed March 2007
  • Burns, G.; Glazer, A.M. (1990). Space Groups for Scientists and Engineers (2nd ed.). Boston: Academic Press, Inc. ISBN . 
  • Cullity, B.D. (1978). Elements of X-Ray Diffraction (2nd ed.). Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. ISBN . 
  • Giacovazzo, C; Monaco HL; Viterbo D; Scordari F; Gilli G; Zanotti G; Catti M (1992). Fundamentals of Crystallography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Green, D.J.; Hannink, R.; Swain, M.V. (1989). Transformation Toughening of Ceramics. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN . 
  • Lovesey, S. W. (1984). Theory of Neutron Scattering from Condensed Matter; Volume 1: Neutron Scattering. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN . 
  • Lovesey, S. W. (1984). Theory of Neutron Scattering from Condensed Matter; Volume 2: Condensed Matter. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN . 
  • O'Keeffe, M.; Hyde, B.G. (1996). Crystal Structures; I. Patterns and Symmetry. Washington, DC: Mineralogical Society of America, Monograph Series. ISBN . 
  • Squires, G.L. (1996). Introduction to the Theory of Thermal Neutron Scattering (2nd ed.). Mineola, New York: Dover Publications Inc. ISBN . 
  • Young, R.A., ed. (1993). The Rietveld Method. Oxford: Oxford University Press & International Union of Crystallography. ISBN . 
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