Material Science
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Material Science

Material science is the study of all materials, from those we see and use every day, to those used in aerospace and medicine. It involves the synthesis, processing, structure, properties and performance of materials, and investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties.

By understanding how materials work, we can create new materials for new applications, as well as develop existing materials to improve performance. Material science equipment can control the structure of a material from an atomic level up, so its properties can be tailored to suit a particular application.

Material science provides major benefits for many industries and societal challenges, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Biotechnology
  • Communication and information technology
  • Aerospace and transport
  • Advanced manufacturing
  • Renewable and sustainable energy
  • The environment and climate change
  • Materials efficiency

Sub-fields of material science

A number of subfields of material science have developed over time, including:

Nanotechnology

Everything on Earth is made up of atoms – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the houses we live in. As a sub-field of material science, nanotechnology studies these atoms by analysing materials at a nanoscale, from around one micron (one-millionth of a metre) to one nanometre in size (one billionth of a metre). It involves imaging, measuring, modelling and manipulating matter, including atoms and molecules, at this scale. Due to the size of the materials and particles at this level, the reactivity effects are stronger and can be used to generate entirely new, thinner materials. This includes soft electronics, plasmonic superlattices (ultrathin nanomaterials that interact with light), gold, silver, polymer nanoparticles and nanowires, as well as tiny capsules like liposomes used to deliver targeted therapeutic drugs.

Crystallography

Crystals can be found everywhere in nature, from salt to snowflakes and gemstones. Crystallography is the study of the structure and properties of these crystals, including how atoms fill space in solids and the defects associated with crystal structures. Crystallographers use the properties and inner structures of crystals to determine the arrangement of atoms and generate knowledge that can be used by chemists, physicists and biologists. As a science, crystallography has produced 28 Nobel Prizes.

Materials characterisation

An important aspect of materials science is the characterisation of the materials we study. There is a range of techniques that enable this characterisation, including scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Biomaterials

Biomaterials is the study of materials derived from or used with biological systems. Biomaterials may be polymers, metals, ceramics or living cells. They play an integral role in medicine today, restoring function and facilitating healing for people after injury or disease.

Surface science

Surface science is the study of the physical and chemical phenomena that occur at the interface of two phases, including solid-solid, solid-liquid and solid-gas interfaces. It includes surface chemistry and surface physics. The traditional measurement of surface tension is the du Noüy ring method, which involves pulling an object with a well-defined geometry off the surface of liquids and measuring the pull force.

Rheology

Rheology is the study of the physical properties of matter that flows, either in liquid form or as soft solids. Methods of rheology testing can measure the deformation of matter under the influence of imposed stress by analysing the internal response of materials to forces.

Material science equipment

ATA Scientific provides the instruments and on-going support you need to achieve reliable material science measurement. Analytical equipment we support that can be used for material science research and applications include:

Need help finding the right analytical equipment for your application? Call us now on 02 9541 3500 or request a free consultation.

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