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Materials science is the multidisciplinary field relating the performance and function of matter in any and all applications to its micro, nano, and atomic-structure, and vice versa. It is closely related to applied physics, chemical engineering and chemistry, bioengineering and biology, mechanical engineering, civil engineering and electrical engineering; it is indeed one of the most multidisciplinary science and engineering fields. Fundamentally, all of nanoscience and nanotechnology is materials science. Because of this, in recent years materials science has been propelled to the forefront at many universities, sometimes controversially: many academics feel that the 'nano' buzzword is bringing in large amounts of funding at the cost of detracting from the teaching of fundamental materials science by putting too much emphasis on devices and applications which may or may not see fruition as working products.

History is often defined by the materials used by advanced civilizations of an era; the stone age, bronze age, and steel age are examples. Materials science in a primitive form is thus one of the oldest forms of engineering and applied science. Modern materials science indeed evolved directly from metallurgy, which itself evolved from mining. A true understanding of materials, however, was not possible until the realization by Willard Gibbs in the second half of the 19th century of the thermodynamic properties which relate how atoms are arranged in various phase (whether they are various types of solids, liquids, or gases) to the properties of the material. Since then, materials science has been the area of research where rather than looking for and discovering materials and exploiting their properties, one instead aims to understand materials fundamentally so that we can invent and create new materials with the properties we desire. Modern materials science is a product of the space race: the understanding and engineering of the metallic alloys (metallurgy)

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  • 24
  • Materials
  • Apr 16, 2006
  • English

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