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The
interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields like sociology, anthropology, psychology, ...
field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, covers the design and discovery of new materials, particularly
solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied ...

solid
s. The intellectual origins of materials science stem from the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
, when researchers began to use analytical thinking from
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

chemistry
,
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
, and
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more speciali ...

engineering
to understand ancient, phenomenological observations in
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
and
mineralogy Mineralogy is a subject of geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is com ...

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 for its study. Materials scientists emphasize understanding, how the history of a material (''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 In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as ...
is used to advance understanding in a variety of research areas, including
nanotechnology Nanotechnology, also shortened to nanotech, is the use of matter on an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by havi ...

nanotechnology
,
biomaterial A biomaterial is a substance that has been engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either a therapeutic (treat, augment, repair, or replace a tissue function of the body) or a diagnostic one. As a science, biomateria ...
s, and
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
. Materials science is also an important part of
forensic engineering Forensic engineering has been defined as ''"the investigation of failures - ranging from serviceability to catastrophic - which may lead to legal activity, including both civil and criminal".'' It includes the investigation of materials A mate ...
and
failure analysisFailure analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a failure The 1895 alt= Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective (goal), objective, and may be viewed as the op ...
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 An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation The Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention, established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a speci ...
.


History

The material of choice of a given era is often a defining point. Phrases such as
Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed by archaeology ...

Stone Age
,
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
,
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's pa ...
, and Steel Age are historic, if arbitrary examples. Originally deriving from the manufacture of
ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. ...

ceramic
s 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 Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
, 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 Josiah Willard Gibbs (; February 11, 1839 – April 28, 1903) was an American scientist who made significant theoretical contributions to physics, chemistry, and mathematics. His work on the applications of thermodynamics was instrumental in tr ...

Josiah Willard Gibbs
demonstrated that the
thermodynamic Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related ent ...
properties related to
atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of ato ...

atom
ic structure in various phases are related to the physical properties of a material. Important elements of modern materials science were products of the
Space Race The Space Race was a 20th-century competition between two Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, whi ...
; the understanding and
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more speciali ...

engineering
of the metallic
alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in ...
s, and
silica Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide An oxide () is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any su ...

silica
and
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

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
rubber Rubber, also called India rubber, latex, Amazonian rubber, ''caucho'', or ''caoutchouc'', as initially produced, consists of polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much" ...

rubber
s,
plastic Plastics are a wide range of syntheticA synthetic is an artificial material produced by organic chemistry, organic chemical synthesis. Synthetic may also refer to: In the sense of both "combination" and "artificial" * Synthetic chemical or s ...

plastic
s,
semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric curre ...
s, and
biomaterial A biomaterial is a substance that has been engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either a therapeutic (treat, augment, repair, or replace a tissue function of the body) or a diagnostic one. As a science, biomateria ...
s. 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 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense The United States Department of Defense (DoD, USDOD or DOD) is an United States federal executive depart ...
, 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 A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. It ...

ceramics
,
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

polymer
s,
semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric curre ...
s,
magnetic Magnetism is a class of physical attributes that are mediated by magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. For in ...

magnetic
materials,
biomaterial A biomaterial is a substance that has been engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either a therapeutic (treat, augment, repair, or replace a tissue function of the body) or a diagnostic one. As a science, biomateria ...
s, and
nanomaterial * Nanomaterials describe, in principle, material A material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemic ...

nanomaterial
s, 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.


Fundamentals

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 and cars to spacecraft. The main classes of materials are
metal A metal (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

metal
s,
semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric curre ...
s,
ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. ...

ceramic
s and
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

polymer
s. New and advanced materials that are being developed include
nanomaterials * Nanomaterials describe, in principle, material A material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or owner of attributes * Chemical substance, a material with a definite chemic ...

nanomaterials
,
biomaterial A biomaterial is a substance that has been engineered to interact with biological systems for a medical purpose, either a therapeutic (treat, augment, repair, or replace a tissue function of the body) or a diagnostic one. As a science, biomateria ...
s, and
energy materials
energy materials
to name a few. The basis of materials science is studying the interplay between the structure of materials, the processing methods to make that material, and the resulting material properties. The complex combination of these produce the performance of a material in a specific application. Many features across many length scales impact material performance, from the constituent chemical elements, it's
microstructure Microstructure is the very small scale structure of a material, defined as the structure of a prepared surface of material as revealed by an optical microscope above 25× magnification. The microstructure of a material (such as Metallography, m ...
, and macroscopic features from processing. Together with the laws of
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in ot ...

thermodynamics
and kinetics materials scientists aim to understand and improve materials.


Structure

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 Characterization or characterisation is the representation of persons (or other beings or creatures) in narrative A narrative, story or tale is any account of a series of related events or experiences, whether nonfiction Nonfiction (also spelle ...
is the way materials scientists examine the structure of a material. This involves methods such as diffraction with
X-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Moti ...

X-ray
s,
electron The electron is a subatomic particle (denoted by the symbol or ) whose electric charge is negative one elementary charge. Electrons belong to the first generation (particle physics), generation of the lepton particle family, and are general ...

electron
s or
neutron The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behav ...

neutron
s, and various forms of
spectroscopy Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way ...

spectroscopy
and
chemical analysis Analytical chemistry studies and uses instruments and methods used to separate, identify, and quantify matter. In practice, separation, identification or quantification may constitute the entire analysis or be combined with another method. Separ ...
such as
Raman spectroscopy 450px, Energy-level diagram showing the states involved in Raman spectra. Raman spectroscopy (); (named after Indian physicist C. V. Raman) is a spectroscopic technique typically used to determine vibrational modes of molecules, although rotatio ...
, energy-dispersive spectroscopy,
chromatography In chemical analysis, chromatography is a laboratory technique for the Separation process, separation of a mixture into its components. The mixture is dissolved in a fluid solvent (gas or liquid) called the ''mobile phase'', which carries it ...

chromatography
,
thermal analysisThermal analysis is a branch of materials science The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, covers the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual o ...
,
electron microscope An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. As the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, electron microscopes have a high ...

electron microscope
analysis, etc. Structure is studied in the following levels.


Atomic structure

Atomic structure deals with the atoms of the materials, and how they are arranged to give rise to 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 (). The chemical bonding and atomic arrangement (crystallography) are fundamental to studying the properties and behavior of any material.


=Bonding

= 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 Quantum chemistry, also called molecular quantum mechanics, is a branch of chemistry focused on the application of quantum mechanics to chemical systems. Understanding electronic structure and molecular dynamics using the Schrödinger equations a ...
or
quantum physics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, ...
.
Solid-state physics Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the l ...
,
solid-state chemistry 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 str ...
and
physical chemistry Physical chemistry is the study of macroscopic scale, macroscopic and particulate phenomena in chemistry, chemical systems in terms of the principles, practices, and concepts of physics such as Motion (physics), motion, energy, force, time, therm ...
are also involved in the study of bonding and structure.


=Crystallography

= 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 Crystallography is the experimental science of determining the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids (see crystal structure In crystallography, crystal structure is a description of the ordered arrangement of atoms, ions or molecule F ...
. Mostly, materials do not occur as a single crystal, but in polycrystalline form, as an aggregate of small crystals or grains 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.
Polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

Polymer
s display varying degrees of crystallinity, and many are completely non-crystalline.
Glass Glass is a non- crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent amorphous solid, that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Glass is most often formed by ...

Glass
, some ceramics, and many natural materials are
amorphous In condensed matter physics Condensed matter physics is the field of that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of , especially the and which arise from forces between s. More generally, the subject deals with " ...
, 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.


Nanostructure

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. 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 Image:Protein translation.gif, 300px, A ribosome is a biological machine that utilizes nanoscale protein dynamics The nanoscopic scale (or nanoscale) usually refers to structures with a length scale applicable to nanotechnology, usually cited ...
. 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
nanoparticle A nanoparticle or ultrafine particle is usually defined as a particle of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched ...

nanoparticle
s 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 particle Ultrafine particles (UFPs) are particulate matter upright=1.7, Movie map of distribution of aerosol particles, based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite: * Green areas show aeros ...
s (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 The ultrastructure of a single bacterial cell ('' nm.">nanometer.html" ;"title="Bacillus subtilis''). The scale bar is 200 nanometer">nm. Ultrastructure (or ultra-structure) is the architecture of cells and biomaterials that is visible at higher ...
.


Microstructure

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 A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformatio ...

crystal
of a material is physically impossible. For example, any crystalline material will contain
defects A defect is a physical, functional, or aesthetic attribute of a product or service that exhibits that the product or service failed to meet one of the desired specifications. Defect, defects or defected may also refer to: Examples * Angular defect ...
such as
precipitates Precipitation is the process of conversion of a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All ever ...
, grain boundaries ( Hall–Petch relationship), vacancies, interstitial atoms or substitutional atoms. The microstructure of materials reveals these larger defects and advances in simulation have allowed an increased understanding of how defects can be used to enhance material properties.


Macrostructure

Macrostructure 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.


Properties

Materials exhibit myriad properties, including the following. :*Mechanical properties, see
Strength of materials The field of strength of materials, also called mechanics of materials, typically refers to various methods of calculating the stresses and strains in structural members, such as beams, columns, and shafts. The methods employed to predict the re ...
:*Chemical properties, see
Chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

Chemistry
:*Electrical properties, see
Electricity Electricity is the set of physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physi ...

Electricity
:*Thermal properties, see
Thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in ot ...

Thermodynamics
:*Optical properties, see
Optics Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually describes t ...

Optics
and
Photonics Photonics is the physical science Physical science is a branch of natural science that studies abiotic component, non-living systems, in contrast to life science. It in turn has many branches, each referred to as a "physical science", together ...
:*Magnetic properties, see
Magnetism Magnetism is a class of physical attributes that are mediated by magnetic field A magnetic field is a vector field In vector calculus and physics, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space. For in ...

Magnetism
The properties of a material determine its usability and hence its engineering application.


Processing

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 Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
''. Also, chemical and physical methods are also used to synthesize other materials such as
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

polymer
s,
ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. ...

ceramic
s,
thin film A thin film is a layer of material ranging from fractions of a nanometer one nanometric Scanning_Tunneling_Microscope.html"_;"title="carbon_nano_tube,_photographed_with_Scanning_Tunneling_Microscope">carbon_nano_tube,_photographed_with_Scannin ...
s, etc. As of the early 21st century, new methods are being developed to synthesize nanomaterials such as
graphene Graphene () is an allotrope of carbon Carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an ...

graphene
.


Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics is concerned with
heat In thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, Work (thermodynamics), work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these ...

heat
and
temperature Temperature ( ) is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical concept ...

temperature
and their relation to
energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regula ...

energy
and
work Work may refer to: * Work (human activity) Work or labor is intentional activity people perform to support themselves, others, or the needs and wants of a wider community. Alternatively, work can be viewed as the human activity that cont ...
. It defines
macroscopic The macroscopic scale is the length scale on which objects or phenomena are large enough to be visible with the naked eye, without magnifying optical instruments. It is the opposite of microscopic The microscopic scale (from , ''mikrós'', "sm ...
variables, such as
internal energy The internal energy of a thermodynamic system A thermodynamic system is a body of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that ca ...
,
entropy Entropy is a scientific concept as well as a measurable physical property that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term and the concept are used in diverse fields, from classical thermodynamic ...

entropy
, and
pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e.g. moving fr ...

pressure
, that partly describe a body of matter or radiation. It states that the behavior of those variables is subject to general constraints common to all 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 In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...
. 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.


Kinetics

Chemical kinetics Chemical kinetics, also known as reaction kinetics, is the branch of physical chemistry that is concerned with understanding the rates of chemical reactions. It is to be contrasted with thermodynamics, which deals with the direction in which a pro ...
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 Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers ...

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.


Research

Materials science is a highly active area of research. Together with materials science departments,
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
,
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

chemistry
, and many
engineering Engineering is the use of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles, and buildings. The discipline of engineering encompasses a broad range of more speciali ...

engineering
departments are involved in materials research. Materials research covers a broad range of topics, following non-exhaustive list highlights a few important research areas.


Nanomaterials

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 nm - 100 nm. Nanomaterials research takes a materials science based approach to
nanotechnology Nanotechnology, also shortened to nanotech, is the use of matter on an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by havi ...

nanotechnology
, using advances in materials
metrology Metrology is the scientific study of measurement Measurement is the quantification (science), quantification of variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events ...

metrology
and synthesis, which have been developed in support of
microfabrication Microfabrication is the process of manufacturing, fabricating miniature structures of micrometre scales and smaller. Historically, the earliest microfabrication processes were used for integrated circuit fabrication, also known as "semiconductor man ...
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
fullerene A fullerene is an allotrope of carbon whose molecule consists of carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical el ...

fullerene
s,
carbon nanotube image of a single-walled carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are tubes made of carbon with diameters typically measured in nanometers The nanometre (international spelling as used by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures; SI ...

carbon nanotube
s,
nanocrystal A ''nanocrystal'' is a material particle having at least one dimension smaller than 100 nanometres, based on quantum dots (a nanoparticle) and composed of atoms An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter that forms a chemical element ...
s, etc.


Biomaterials

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 Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
,
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
,
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

chemistry
,
tissue engineering Tissue engineering is a biomedical engineering discipline that uses a combination of cells Cell most often refers to: * Cell (biology), the functional basic unit of life Cell may also refer to: Closed spaces * Monastic cell, a small room, ...
, and materials science. Biomaterials can be derived either from nature or synthesized in a laboratory using a variety of chemical approaches using metallic components,
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

polymer
s, bioceramics, or
composite material A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or o ...

composite material
s. They are often intended or adapted for medical applications, such as biomedical devices which perform, augment, or replace a natural function. Such functions may be benign, like being used for a
heart valve A heart valve is a one-way valve check valve Image:Check Valve.svg, 140px, Check valve symbol on piping and instrumentation diagrams. The arrow shows the flow direction. A check valve, non-return valve, reflux valve, retention valve, foot valv ...
, or may be bioactive with a more interactive functionality such as
hydroxylapatite Hydroxyapatite, also called hydroxylapatite (HA), is a naturally occurring mineral form of calcium apatite with the Chemical formula, formula Ca5(PO4)3(OH), but it is usually written Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2 to denote that the Crystal structure, crysta ...
-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 Autotransplantation is the organ transplantation, transplantation of Organ (anatomy), organs, Biological tissue, tissues, or even particular proteins from one part of the body to another in the same person (''wikt:auto-, auto-'' meaning "self" in ...
,
allograft Allotransplant (''allo-'' meaning "other" in Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population ...
or
xenograft Xenotransplantation (''xenos-'' from the Greek meaning "foreign" or strange), or heterologous transplant, is the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological c ...
used as an
organ transplant Organ transplantation is a medical procedure in which an organ (anatomy), organ is removed from one body and placed in the body of a recipient, to replace a damaged or missing organ. The donor and recipient may be at the same location, or orga ...
material.


Electronic, optical, and magnetic

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.
Semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric curre ...
s are a traditional example of these types of materials. They are materials that have properties that are intermediate between
conductors Conductor or conduction may refer to: Music * Conductor (music), a person who leads a musical ensemble like, for example, an orchestra. * Conductor (album), ''Conductor'' (album), an album by indie rock band The Comas * Conduction, a type of ...
and
insulators Insulator may refer to: * Insulator (electricity) An electrical insulator is a material in which the electron does not flow freely or the atom of the insulator have tightly bound electrons whose internal electric charge Electric charge is th ...
. Their electrical conductivities are very sensitive to the concentration of impurities, which allows the use of
doping Doping may refer to: * Doping, adding a dopant to something * Doping (semiconductor), intentionally introducing impurities into an extremely pure semiconductor to change its electrical properties * Aircraft dope, a lacquer that is applied to fabric ...
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 Superconductivity is a set of physical properties observed in certain materials where Electrical resistance and conductance, electrical resistance vanishes and magnetic field, magnetic flux fields are expelled from the material. Any material exh ...

superconducting
materials,
spintronics Spintronics (a portmanteau meaning spin transport electronics), also known as spin electronics, is the study of the intrinsic spin (physics), spin of the electron and its associated magnetic moment, in addition to its fundamental electron charge, ...
,
metamaterial A metamaterial (from the Greek word μετά ''meta'', meaning "beyond" and the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the ...

metamaterial
s, etc. The study of these materials involves knowledge of materials science and
solid-state physics Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the l ...
or
condensed matter physics Condensed matter physics is the field of physics that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter, especially the solid and liquid State of matter, phases which arise from electromagnetic forces between atoms. More ge ...
.


Computational materials science

With continuing increases in computing power, simulating the behavior of materials has become possible. This enables materials scientists to understand behavior and mechanisms, design new materials, and explain properties formerly poorly understood. Efforts surrounding
integrated computational materials engineering Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) is an approach to design products, the materials that comprise them, and their associated materials processing methods by linking materials models at multiple length scales. Key words are "Integ ...
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 Density-functional theory (DFT) is a computational quantum mechanical modelling method used in physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is ...
, molecular dynamics,
Monte Carlo Monte Carlo (; ; french: Monte-Carlo , or colloquially ''Monte-Carl'' ; lij, label= Monégasque, Munte Carlu; ) is officially an administrative area of the Principality of Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: ...
, dislocation dynamics, phase field,
finite element The finite element method (FEM) is a widely used method for numerically solving differential equations In mathematics, a differential equation is an equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the stud ...
, and many more.


Industry

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 Casting is a manufacturing process in which a liquid material is usually poured into a Mold (manufacturing), mold, which contains a hollow cavity of the desired shape, and then allowed to solidify. The solidified part is also known as a ''cast ...

casting
,
rolling Rolling is a type of motion that combines rotation A rotation is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. The plane (geometry), geometric plane along which the rotation occurs is called the ''rotation plane' ...

rolling
,
welding Welding is a process that joins materials, usually s or s, by using high to melt the parts together and allowing them to cool, causing . Welding is distinct from lower temperature metal-joining techniques such as and , which do not the base ...

welding
,
ion implantation technological facility in Toulouse, France. Ion implantation is a low-temperature process by which ion (physics), ions of one element are accelerated into a solid target, thereby changing the physical, chemical, or electrical properties of the t ...
,
crystal growth A crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a highly ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addit ...
,
thin-film deposition A thin film is a layer of material ranging from fractions of a nanometer (monolayer) to several micrometre, micrometers in thickness. The controlled synthesis of materials as thin films (a process referred to as deposition) is a fundamental step i ...
,
sintering Clinker nodules produced by sintering Sintering or frittage is the process of compacting and forming a solid mass of material by heat or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction In materials science The interdisciplinary ...
,
glassblowing Glassblowing is a glassforming technique that involves inflating molten glass Glass is a non- crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent amorphous solid, that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, ...

glassblowing
, etc.), and analytic methods (characterization methods such as
electron microscopy An electron microscope is a microscope that uses a beam of accelerated electrons as a source of illumination. As the wavelength of an electron can be up to 100,000 times shorter than that of visible light photons, electron microscopes have a hig ...

electron microscopy
,
X-ray diffraction X-ray crystallography (XRC) is the experimental science determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents (such as atoms, molecules, or ions) are arranged in a ...

X-ray diffraction
,
calorimetry Calorimetry is the science or act of measuring changes in '' state variables'' of a body for the purpose of deriving the heat transfer Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and ...
, nuclear microscopy (HEFIB),
Rutherford backscatteringRutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is an analytical technique used in materials science The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also commonly termed materials science and engineering, covers the design and discovery of new ma ...
,
neutron diffraction The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behav ...
, 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.


Ceramics and glasses

Another application of materials science is the study of
ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant Corrosion is a Erosion, natural process that converts a refined metal into a more chemically stable form such as oxide, hydroxide, carbonate or sulfide. ...

ceramic
s and
glasses Glasses, also known as eyeglasses or spectacles, are vision eyewear, consisting of glass or hard plastic lenses mounted in a frame that holds them in front of a person's eyes, typically utilizing a bridge over the nose and hinged arms (known ...

glasses
, typically the most brittle materials with industrial relevance. Many ceramics and glasses exhibit covalent or ionic-covalent bonding with SiO2 (
silica Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is an oxide An oxide () is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance A chemical substance is a form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any su ...
) as a fundamental building block. Ceramics - not to be confused with raw, unfired
clay Clay is a type of fine-grained natural soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="glacial till, Northern Ireland">glacial till, Northern Ireland. Soil is a mixture of organic m ...

clay
- are usually seen in crystalline form. The vast majority of commercial glasses contain a metal oxide fused with silica. At the high temperatures used to prepare glass, the material is a viscous liquid which solidifies into a disordered state upon cooling. Windowpanes and eyeglasses are important examples. Fibers of glass are also used for long-range telecommunication and optical transmission. Scratch resistant Corning
Gorilla Glass'' Gorilla Glass is a brand of chemically strengthened glass developed and manufactured by Corning, now in its seventh generation, designed to be thin, light and damage-resistant. As a brand, Gorilla Glass is unique to Corning, but close equivale ...
is a well-known example of the application of materials science to drastically improve the properties of common components. Engineering ceramics are known for their stiffness and stability under high temperatures, compression and electrical stress. Alumina,
silicon carbide Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum (), is a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental p ...

silicon carbide
, and
tungsten carbide Tungsten carbide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also other symbols, such as pa ...

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.


Composites

Another application of materials science in industry is making
composite material A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or o ...

composite material
s. 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 and protects the Space Shuttle's wing leading edges and nose cap. RCC is a laminated composite material made from
graphite Graphite (), archaically referred to as plumbago, is a Crystallinity, crystalline form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a Hexagonal crystal system, hexagonal structure. It occurs naturally in this form and is the most stable for ...

graphite
rayon Rayon is a synthetic fiber Synthetic fiber or synthetic fibre (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that ...

rayon
cloth and impregnated with a
phenolic resin Phenol formaldehyde resins (PF) or phenolic resins (also infrequently called phenoplasts) are synthetic polymers obtained by the reaction of phenol or substituted phenol with formaldehyde. Used as the basis for Bakelite, PFs were the first commerc ...
. 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 Furfural is an organic compound with the formula C4H3OCHO. It is a colorless liquid, although commercial samples are often brown. It has an aldehyde group attached to the 2-position of furan. It is a product of the dehydration reaction, dehydrat ...

furfural
alcohol to carbon. To provide oxidation resistance for reuse ability, the outer layers of the RCC are converted to
silicon carbide Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum (), is a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental p ...

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 A composite material (also called a composition material or shortened to composite, which is the common name) is a material Material is a substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote the base or o ...

composite material
made up of a thermoplastic matrix such as
acrylonitrile butadiene styrene Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of s that constitute a particular or molecule, using symbols, numbers, and sometimes also oth ...
(ABS) in which
calcium carbonate Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound A chemical compound is a chemical substance composed of many identical molecules (or molecular entity, molecular entities) composed of atoms from more than one chemical element, element held togethe ...

calcium carbonate
chalk,
talc Talc, or talcum, is a clay mineral Clay minerals are , sometimes with variable amounts of , , s, s, and other s found on or near some s. Clay minerals form in the presence of water and have been important to life, and many theories of ...

talc
,
glass fiber Glass fiber (American and British English spelling differences, or glass fibre) is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass. Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of gl ...
s or
carbon fiber Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to ...

carbon fiber
s have been added for added strength, bulk, or electrostatic dispersion. These additions may be termed reinforcing fibers, or dispersants, depending on their purpose.


Polymers

Polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

Polymer
s 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 Polyethylene or (incorrectly) polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic in use today. It is a polymer, primarily used for packaging (plastic bags, plastic films, geomembranes and container ...

polyethylene
,
polypropylene Polypropylene (PP), also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoft plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidifies upon cooling. Most thermo ...

polypropylene
,
polyvinyl chloride Polyvinyl chloride (colloquial Colloquialism or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in ...
(PVC),
polystyrene Polystyrene (PS) is a synthetic Aromaticity, aromatic hydrocarbon polymer made from the monomer known as styrene. Polystyrene can be solid or foamed. General-purpose polystyrene is clear, hard, and brittle. It is an inexpensive resin per un ...

polystyrene
,
nylon Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymerSynthetic polymers are human-made polymers, often derived from petroleum oil. From the utility point of view they can be classified into three main categories: thermoplastics, ela ...

nylon
s,
polyester Polyester is a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in every repeat unit of their main chain. As a specific material, it most commonly refers to a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include natural ...
s, acrylics,
polyurethane Polyurethane (often abbreviated PUR and PU) referes to a class of polymers composed of organic chemistry, organic units joined by carbamate (urethane) links. In contrast to other common polymers such as polyethylene and polystyrene, polyurethane ...

polyurethane
s, and
polycarbonate Polycarbonates (PC) are a group of thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoft plastic, is a plastic polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material c ...

polycarbonate
s and also rubbers, which have been around are natural rubber,
styrene-butadiene Styrene-butadiene or styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) describe families of synthetic rubber A synthetic rubber is any artificial elastomer An elastomer is a polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "par ...
rubber,
chloroprene Chloroprene is the common name for 2-chlorobuta-1,3-diene (IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry, IUPAC name) with the chemical formula CH2=CCl−CH=CH2. Chloroprene is a colorless volatile liquid, almost exclusively used as a monomer for the pr ...
, 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 Artificial leather, also called synthetic leather, is a material intended to substitute for leather in upholstery, clothing, footwear, and other uses where a leather-like finish is desired but the actual material is cost-prohibitive or unsuitable. ...
to
electrical insulation An electrical insulator is a material in which the electron does not flow freely or the atom of the insulator have tightly bound electrons whose internal electric charge Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes it to exp ...
and cabling,
packaging Packaging is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a disco ...

packaging
, and
containers A container is any receptacle or enclosure for holding a product used in storage, packaging Packaging is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, b ...

containers
. Its fabrication and processing are simple and well-established. The versatility of PVC is due to the wide range of
plasticiser A plasticizer ( UK: plasticiser) is a substance that is added to a material to make it softer and more flexible, to increase its plasticity Plasticity may refer to: Science * Plasticity (physics), in engineering and physics, the propensity of ...
s 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 Polycarbonates (PC) are a group of thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoft plastic, is a plastic polymer A polymer (; Greek ''wikt:poly-, poly-'', "many" + ''wikt:-mer, -mer'', "part") is a Chemical substance, substance or material c ...

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 Polyethylene or (incorrectly) polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic in use today. It is a polymer, primarily used for packaging (plastic bags, plastic films, geomembranes and container ...

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 Medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) is a type of polyethylene Polyethylene or polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic in use today. It is a polymer, primarily used for packaging (plastic ...
(MDPE) is used for underground gas and water pipes, and another variety called
ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW) is a subset of the thermoplastic polyethylene Polyethylene or polythene (abbreviated PE; IUPAC name polyethene or poly(methylene)) is the most common plastic in use today. It is a polyme ...
(UHMWPE) is an engineering plastic which is used extensively as the glide rails for industrial equipment and the low-friction socket in implanted
hip joint In vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, ...
s.


Metal alloys

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 Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appe ...

steel
,
stainless steel Stainless steel is a group of ferrous alloys that contain a minimum of approximately 11% chromium Chromium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistr ...
,
cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impuritie ...
,
tool steel Tool steel is any of various carbon steel Carbon steel is a steel with carbon content from about 0.05 up to 3.8 per cent by weight. The definition of carbon steel from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) states: * no minimum content ...
,
alloy steel Alloy steel is steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, s ...
s) make up the largest proportion both by quantity and commercial value. Iron alloyed with various proportions of carbon gives low, mid and
high carbon steel Carbon steel is a steel Steel is an alloy of iron with typically a few tenths of a percent of carbon to improve its strength of materials, strength and fracture toughness, fracture resistance compared to iron. Many other elements may be pres ...
s. An iron-carbon alloy is only considered steel, if the carbon level is between 0.01% and 2.00%. For the steels, the
hardness Hardness (antonym: softness) is a measure of the resistance to localized plastic deformation In engineering, deformation refers to the change in size or shape of an object. ''Displacements'' are the ''absolute'' change in position of a point ...
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 Aluminium (aluminum in and ) is a with the  Al and  13. Aluminium has a density lower than those of other common , at approximately one third that of . It has a great affinity towards , and of on the surface when exposed to air ...

aluminium
,
titanium Titanium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

titanium
,
copper Copper is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

copper
and
magnesium Magnesium is a chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

magnesium
.
Copper alloys Copper is a chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an element is a pure substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same nu ...
have been known for a long time (since the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
), 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.


Semiconductors

The study of semiconductors is a significant part of materials science. A
semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental property of a material that measures how strongly it resists electric curre ...
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
diode A diode is a two- that conducts primarily in one direction (asymmetric ); it has low (ideally zero) in one direction, and high (ideally infinite) in the other. A diode or thermionic diode is a vacuum tube with two s, a heated and a , in ...

diode
s,
transistor upright=1.4, gate Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands of Java">Indonesia.html" ;"title="Candi bentar, a typical Indonesia">Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands o ...

transistor
s,
light-emitting diode A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an value falling between that of a , such as metallic copper, and an , such as glass. Its falls as its temperature rises; metals behave in the opposite ...
s (LEDs), and analog and digital
electric circuit An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical component An electronic component is any basic discrete device or physical entity in an electronic system Electronic may refer to: *Electronics, the science of how to control elect ...

electric circuit
s 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 circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuit 200px, A circuit built on a printed circuit board (PCB). An electronic circuit is composed of indiv ...

integrated circuit
s (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 Silicon is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard, brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre, and is a Tetravalence, tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor. It is a member ...

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 Gallium Gallium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Discovered by France, French chemist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran in 1875, Gallium is in boron group, group 13 of the periodic ta ...

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 Germanium is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ge and atomic number 32. It is a lustrous, hard-brittle, grayish-white metalloid in the carbon group, chemically similar to its group neighbors silicon and tin. Pure germanium i ...

germanium
,
silicon carbide Silicon carbide (SiC), also known as carborundum (), is a semiconductor A semiconductor material has an electrical conductivity Electrical resistivity (also called specific electrical resistance or volume resistivity) is a fundamental p ...

silicon carbide
, and
gallium nitride Gallium nitride () is a binary boron group, III/nitrogen group, V direct bandgap semiconductor commonly used in blue light-emitting diodes since the 1990s. The compound (chemistry), compound is a very hard material that has a Wurtzite crystal st ...
and have various applications.


Relation with other fields

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 Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
and ceramics engineering departments; splitting from existing solid state physics research (itself growing into
condensed matter physics Condensed matter physics is the field of physics that deals with the macroscopic and microscopic physical properties of matter, especially the solid and liquid State of matter, phases which arise from electromagnetic forces between atoms. More ge ...
); pulling in relatively new polymer engineering and polymer science; recombining from the previous, as well as
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. T ...

chemistry
, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering; and more. The field of materials science and engineering is important both from a scientific perspective, as well as for applications field. Materials are of the utmost importance for engineers (or other applied fields) because 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. The field is inherently interdisciplinary, and the materials scientists or engineers must be aware and make use of the methods of the physicist, chemist and engineer. Thus, there remain close relationships with these fields. Conversely, many physicists, chemists and engineers find themselves working in materials science due to the significant overlaps between the fields.


Emerging technologies


Subdisciplines

The main branches of materials science stem from the three main classes of materials: ceramics, metals, and polymers. * Ceramic engineering * Metallurgy * Polymer science and polymer engineering There are additionally broadly applicable, materials independent, endeavors. * Characterization (materials science), Materials characterization * Computational materials science * Materials informatics There are also relatively broad focuses across materials on specific phenomena and techniques. * Crystallography * Nuclear spectroscopy * Surface science * Tribology


Related fields

* Condensed matter physics * Mineralogy * Solid-state chemistry *
Solid-state physics Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how the l ...
* Supramolecular chemistry


Professional societies

* American Ceramic Society * ASM International (society), ASM International * Association for Iron and Steel Technology * Materials Research Society * The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society


See also

* Bio-based material * Bioplastic * Forensic materials engineering * List_of_emerging_technologies#Materials_and_textile_science, List of emerging materials science technologies * List of materials science journals * List of materials analysis methods * Materials science in science fiction * Timeline of materials technology


References


Citations


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading


Timeline of Materials Science
at The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) accessed March 2007 * * * * * * * * *


External links


MS&T conference organized by the main materials societies

MIT OpenCourseWare for MSE
* {{DEFAULTSORT:Materials science Materials science, Building engineering eo:Materiala Inĝenierarto