Everything we use is made of some materials or combination of materials. We use different type of materials – metals, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors and composites – in our daily lives. Materials science is an interdisciplinary field applying the properties of matter to various areas of science and engineering, which deals with all aspects of materials:
Extraction of materials from natural and recycled resources
Selection of appropriate materials for a given application
Manufacturing useful objects from raw materials
Assurance of quality of manufactured products
Study of the behavior of materials under various conditions
Research and development of new materials and new ways of process them into useful objects
Analysis of the performance of materials in service and investigate causes of failure
Fundamental in the relationship between materials properties and microstructure at different length scales
Fundamental of the relationship between processing and microstructure at different length scale.
In short, materials science and engineering is involved with all the processes that turn natural resources into useful products that impact all facets of our economy, such as aerospace, electronics, transportation, communication, construction, recreation, entertainment, environment and energy.
Metallurgy and Materials Science
Metallurgy applies engineering and technical skills in the development of industrial metals and manufacturing processes. This is a branch of engineering which deals with all sorts of metal-related objects. The three main branches of these processes are physical metallurgy, extractive metallurgy, and mineral processing.
Other than metals, ceramics are also an important part of materials science. Polymers are the raw materials (the resins) used to make what we commonly call plastics. Plastics are really the final product, after one or more polymers or additives have been added to a resin during processing, which is then shaped into final form.
Polymers, which have been round and are in current widespread use, include polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC, polystyrene, nylons, polyesters, acrylics, polyurethanes, and polycarbonates. These materials are generally classified as ‘commodity’, ‘specialty’ and ‘engineering’ plastics.
Another application of materials science in engineering industry is the making of composite materials. Composite materials are structured materials composed of two or more microscopic phases. Applications range from structural elements such as steel-reinforced concrete, to the thermally insulative tiles which play a key role and integral role space shuttle thermal protection system which is used to protect the surface of the shuttle from the heat of re-entry into the earth atmosphere. One example is reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC), the light-gray material which withstands re-entry temperature up to 1510 degree C (2750 degree F) and protects the space shuttle wing leading edges and nose cap. RCC is a laminated composite material made from graphite rayon cloth and impregnated with a phenolic resin. In order to provide oxidation resistance for reuse capability, the outer layers of the RCC are converted to silicon carbide.
Other examples can be seen in the ‘plastic’ casings of television sets, cell phones and so on. These plastics casing are usually a composite material made up of a thermoplastics matrix such as acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in which calcium carbonate chalk, talc, glass fibres or carbon fibres have been added for added strength, bulk, or electro-static dispersants, depending on the purpose they serve.
Engineers develop ceramic materials and the processes for making them into useful products such as glassware or fiber-optic communication lines.
Materials science and materials engineering is an interdisciplinary field involving the properties of matters and it applications to various areas of science and engineering. This science investigates the relationship between the science and the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It includes element of applied physics and chemistry. With significant media attention focused on nanoscience and nanotechnology in recent years, materials science has been propelled to the forefront of many universities. It is also an important part of forensic engineering and failure analysis. The materials science also deals with fundamental properties and characteristics of materials.