|Can you explain to me what a material's scientist does?
|Question Date: 2020-05-08|
"Material" refers to any substance that "things" are made of: plastic, metal, wood, glass, etc. Materials scientists study the properties of materials: are they flexible? Are they hard or soft? Do they conduct heat, or electricity? Are they transparent? These properties affect what a material can be used for. You can use steel to build a bridge, but you certainly wouldn't use it to make a contact lens!
Materials scientists often work to invent new types of materials with improved properties. They might experiment with ways to mix different metals together, to form an alloy that is stronger or lighter, perhaps to build better airplanes.
Materials scientists might also look to nature for inspiration when designing materials. Most adhesives, like scotch tape, don't work when they are wet. But underwater creatures like mussels and barnacles have no problem sticking to the side of rocks, docks, and boats. Scientists have studied these creatures and created new sticky materials based on the natural sticky substances produced by mussels. These new types of mussel-inspired glue remain sticky underwater! (You can read about it here: mussels glue adhesives ).
There are many other categories of materials science research: materials for solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, materials to make longer-lasting batteries, and medical materials to go inside the body for joint replacement are just a few examples.
Here is a good resource if you are interested in learning more about materials science and engineering: what is Materials Science.
This is a fantastic question and a point of a lot of confusion because of the range of possible occupations for a materials scientist. In general, materials science is a discipline that is interested in the intersection of a material's properties (how does this material perform at a specific task?), processing (how do I make it?), and structure (how does my material look at different magnifications?). Notice, however, that I did not specify exactly what material or application I am talking about. Therein lies the beauty and versatility of material science; it can be applied to many different technologies.
Materials scientists are needed in domains like construction, renewable energy, computer production, and chocolate-making. I should also emphasize though that materials science can be seen as the overlap of chemistry, physics, and even math. Because of this, the lessons learned from materials science can be applied everywhere.
From a historical perspective, materials science came out of metallurgy, the study of metals, and has been around for a long long time. You can think of the discovery of bronze around 3500 BC as a materials science breakthrough! With time, humans discovered uses for far more types of materials like semiconductors and polymers. In order to incorporate these families of materials into the umbrella of one discipline, the name materials science was adopted.
A great resource I can recommend for learning more about materials science is the following: materials science.
Thank you for your interest and I admire your curiosity!
A materials scientist
Hi Paulo! Materials are all around us, try imagining a metal bridge, a paved road or a kitchen plate. A materials scientist connects the structure and properties of materials. Well what does properties and structure even mean, you may ask. Think of a fun ball pit. Instead of balls, materials are made of atoms. Those atoms are the structure. A property might be how much weight that road can hold before cracking. The right atoms in the right places can make all the difference! A materials scientist job may be to figure out just the right road material.
A materials scientist is someone who studies the physical properties of materials, such as tensile strength (e.g. how much weight a cable of a material can support), compressional strength (how much weight a column of a material can support), and so on. This information is then used for engineering.
Some materials scientists belong to the Materials Research Society. Its initials are "MRS". I think that's funny, because "Mrs." is also a title for a married woman. I belonged to the Materials Research Society when they had a meeting every year in San Francisco, but now their meetings are not in San Francisco. I used Atomic Force Microscope to look at things in biology, like cells and proteins and DNA.
Materials scientists do all sorts of research. Materials are fun things to work with, and they do all sorts of interesting things. So lots of different types of scientists work on materials science.
Angela Belcher is an amazing materials scientist who was a student at UC Santa Barbara. I knew her there. Angela Belcher.
Here's an article about her virus battery .
Here you have an interesting link on Materials Science.
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