Sometimes it is useful to subdivide the discipline of materials science and engineering into materials science and materials engineering sub-disciplines. Strictly speaking, materials science involves investigating the relationships that exist between the structures and properties of materials. In contrast, materials engineering involves, on the basis of these structure–property correlations, designing or engineering the structure of a material to produce a predetermined set of properties.materials science and engineering

material science

From a functional perspective, the role of a materials scientist is to develop or synthesize new materials, whereas a materials engineer is called upon to create new products or systems using existing materials and/or to develop techniques for processing materials. Most graduates in materials programs are trained to be both materials scientists and materials engineers.

Several common objects made of polymeric materials: plastic tableware (spoon, fork, and knife),
billiard balls, a bicycle helmet, two dice, a lawn mower wheel (plastic hub and rubber tire), and a plastic milk carton.

Structure is, at this point, a nebulous term that deserves some explanation. In brief, the structure of a material usually relates to the arrangement of its internal components. Subatomic structure involves electrons within the individual atoms and interactions with their nuclei. On an atomic level, structure encompasses the organization of atoms or molecules relative to one another. materials science and engineering

The next larger structural realm, which contains large groups of atoms that are normally agglomerated together, is termed microscopic, meaning that which is subject to direct observation using some type of microscope. Finally, structural elements that can be viewed with the naked eye are termed macroscopic.materials science and engineering

The notion of property deserves elaboration. While in service use, all materials are exposed to external stimuli that evoke some type of response. For example, a specimen subjected to forces experiences deformation, or a polished metal surface reflects light. A property is a material trait in terms of the kind and magnitude of response to a specific imposed stimulus. Generally, definitions of properties are made independent of material shape and size.

Virtually all important properties of solid materials may be grouped into six different categories: mechanical, electrical, thermal, magnetic, optical, and deteriorative. For each, there is a characteristic type of stimulus capable of provoking different responses. Mechanical properties relate deformation to an applied load or force; examples include elastic modulus (stiffness), strength, and toughness.materials science and engineering

So What is Materials Science (and Engineering)? | nontrivial problems

For electrical properties, such as electrical conductivity and dielectric constant, the stimulus is an electric field. The thermal behavior of solids can be represented in terms of heat capacity and thermal conductivity.

Magnetic properties demonstrate the response of a material to the application of a magnetic field. For optical properties, the stimulus is electromagnetic or light radiation; index of refraction and reflectivity are representative optical properties. Finally, deteriorative characteristics relate to the chemical reactivity of materials. The chapters that follow discuss properties that fall within each of these six classifications.

Common objects made of ceramic materials: scissors, a china teacup, a building brick, a floor tile, and a glass vase.

In addition to structure and properties, two other important components are involved in the science and engineering of materials—namely, processing and performance. With regard to the relationships of these four components, the structure of a material depends on how it is processed. Furthermore, a material’s performance is a function of its properties.

Thus, the interrelationship among processing, structure, properties, and performance is as depicted in the schematic illustration shown in Figure 1.1. Throughout this text, we draw attention to the relationships among these four components in terms of the design, production, and utilization of materials.materials science and engineering

Familiar objects made of metals and metal alloys (from left to right):
silverware (fork and knife), scissors, coins, a gear, a wedding ring, and a nut and bolt.

We present an example of these processing-structure-properties-performance principles in Figure 1.2, a photograph showing three thin disk specimens placed over some materials science and engineering
printed matter. It is obvious that the optical properties (i.e., the light transmittance) of each of the three materials are different; the one on the left is transparent (i.e., virtually all of the Throughout this text, we draw attention to the relationships between material properties and structural elements.materials science and engineering

Three thin disk specimens of aluminum oxide that have been placed over a printed page in order to demonstrate their differences in light-transmittance characteristics. The disk on the left is transparent (i.e., virtually all light that is reflected from the page passes
through it), whereas the one in the center is translucent (meaning that some of this reflected light is transmitted through the disk).

The disk on the right is opaque—that is, none of the light passes through it. These differences in optical properties are a consequence of differences in structure of these materials, which have resulted
from the way the materials were processed.


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