Picture: Upper fabric: coconut active carbon fiber. Sole: TC-1 rubber. Footbed: antimicrobial polyamide microfiber
Materials – New materials have been among the greatest achievements of every age and they have been central to the growth, prosperity, security, and quality of life of humans since the beginning of history. It is always new materials that open the door to new technologies, whether they are in civil, chemical, construction, nuclear, aeronautical, agricultural, mechanical, biomedical or electrical engineering.
- Materials science – investigates the relationship between the structure of materials and their properties. It includes elements of applied physics and chemistry, as well as chemical, mechanical, civil and electrical engineering.
- nanoscience and nanotechnology
- forensic engineering and forensic materials engineering – the study of failed products and components.
Materials Science and Engineering. This subject utilizes the synthesis techniques of chemistry and the characterization tools of physics, such as the atomic force microscope, to control and characterize the properties of the structure and properties of solid materials. The principles of materials science are broadly used by a variety of engineering disciplines including electronics, aerospace, telecommunications, information processing, nuclear power, and energy conversion. Applications vary from structural steels to computer microchips. A materials engineer would have applied the principles of Materials Science extensively in the design of synthetic skin which can act as a framework for live cells that grow into a layer of skin while the framework is absorbed by the body.
- the study of how a material’s structure is related to its properties.
- You could call it the study of stuff! Just about everything you use every day – the shoes you wear, the dishes you eat from, the CDs you listen to, the bike or skateboard you ride – it’s all made of different kinds of stuff. Understanding how that stuff is put together, how it can be used, how it can be changed and made better to do more amazing things – even creating completely new kinds of stuff: that’s what materials science is all about.
Materials engineers design, select and improve the materials used in a wide array of engineering applications. These include the alloys in jet engines, plastics in bicycles, ceramics in radar equipment, composites in golf clubs, and semiconductors in cell phones. Examples of human-related challenges are new and improved materials for leg, arm or hand prosthetic and implants for hips and other joints. Materials engineers typically work for a variety of organizations such as Motorola, Boeing, and Ford.
Materials engineers are on the cutting edge of technology in virtually every field. They develop the materials with outstanding combinations of mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties that make other advances possible. Metals, plastics, ceramics, super- and semi-conductors are just of the few material that these engineers continue to develop and enhance.
Materials through history
- pottery – made in Japan, 12-15 thousand years ago, archeologists have found cooked food crust
- metal – metallurgy
Properties – Elasticity. Stress. Strain.
- Polymers – synthetic plastics such as polystyrene (of styrofoam) and natural biopolymers such as DNA and proteins that are fundamental to biological structure and function. Polymers, both natural and synthetic, are large molecular mass relative to small molecule compounds produces unique properties such as toughness, viscoelasticity,
- Plastic – Any of numerous substances that can be shaped and molded when subjected to heat or pressure. Plastics are easily shaped because they consist of long-chain molecules known as polymers, which do not break apart when flexed. Plastics can be pressed into thin layers, formed into objects, or drawn into fibers for use in textiles.
- Carbon-fiber reinforced polymer – polymer is most often epoxy, but other polymers, such as polyester, vinyl ester or nylon, are sometimes used. The composite may contain other fibers, such as aramid e.g. Kevlar, Twaron, aluminium, or glass fibers, as well as carbon fiber or carbon nanotubes. Carbon fiber is commonly used in the transportation industry; normally in cars, boats and trains.
- Kevlar – As a chemist at DuPont in the 1960s, Stephanie Kwolek’s work led to the development of Kevlar, a fiber best known for its use in bullet-resistant vests. polymers
- Graphene’s discoverers were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their find. And it’s no wonder; the material is 200 times stronger than steel, and many times thinner than a human hair. It has the potential to accelerate internet speeds by 100 times, and recharge a lithium-ion battery 10 times as fast as a normal battery.
Meet the people in Materials Engineering
- Katherine Bicer ensures that helicopters are safe, fast, and reliable. (video 1:16)
- Jennifer Moore (Materials Engineer) – Engineering Associate, W.L. Gore & Associates – Research & Development “Lots of companies don’t understand what materials engineering is. Apply for chemical engineering and mechanical engineering jobs. Be prepared to do it all! Target companies which specialize in Polymers, Ceramics, or Metals.”
- materials science The study of how the atomic and molecular structure of a material is related to its overall properties. Materials scientists can design new materials or analyze existing ones. Their analyses of a material’s overall properties (such as density, strength and melting point) can help engineers and other researchers select materials that best suited to a new application.
- properties, active carbon fiber, antimicrobial polyamide microfiber, structure, properties, processing, performance
Here are some challenges for you to work on…
- Build a Lifeboat – Engineer a lifeboat by selecting the appropriate material for each component. Launch your boat to see whether it passes the test.
- where would be some good places to use an ‘auxetic’ material, one that gets thicker rather than thinner when you stretch it?
- learn about the properties of materials as you experiment with a variety of objects. Discover the interesting characteristics of materials; are they flexible, waterproof, strong or transparent?
- activities associated with structure, properties, processing, performance
- Creating Bomb-proof Curtains – video
- Electronic skin – Tiny, nearly invisible devices stick to skin, ‘talk’ to computers
- What is Materials Engineering? – Purdue University, materials examples
- Properties of materials – Learn about the properties of materials as you experiment with a variety of objects in this great science activity for kids. Discover the interesting characteristics of materials; are they flexible, waterproof, strong or transparent?
Materials lab – sample equipment
- X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer for the chemical analysis of materials
- scanning electron microscope (SEM) to determine information about a sample’s properties using a beam of electrons
- CT scanner can handle parts as heavy as 200 pounds
- universal testing machines used to test the tensile stress and compressive strength of materials
- laser cutter
- optical microscopes
- nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy characterizes materials by using the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei to determine chemical and physical properties of atoms or the molecules that contain them