Materials Science and Engineering touches almost every aspect of our lives from the concrete and steel in the structures around us, the components in our electronic devices and even biomedical implants used to better our health. This field is diverse and crosses over with an array of disciplines including engineering, chemistry, biology and mathematics.
To introduce you to this exciting discipline, please enjoy our introductory tutorials for high school students and interested members of the public which cover a broad range of concepts. If you find these tutorials interesting, find out more in our courses section.
All materials are made up of atoms. These atoms are held together by forces called interatomic bonds. The bonds act like springs, linking each atom to its neighbour.
All of us have dropped drinking glasses and mugs before and seen them break into many pieces on the floor. This begs the question: how can such brittle materials be used in engineering? Ceramics have been used in civil structures for centuries.
There are several common stress (σ) states that occur frequently in engineering applications. Simple tension: forces are applied outwards in opposing directions at either end of the specimen on a single axis. Simple compression: forces are applied inwards in opposing directions at either end of the specimen on a single axis.
There are many tests that can be done on materials to determine their properties or qualities. The tests can be either destructive or non-destructive.
We don’t want engineering materials to fail because they can cause loss of life, economic loss or a loss of products or services. The usual causes of material failure are incorrect materials selection, incorrect processing, incorrect manufacturing procedures, inadequate design or incorrect use.
Corrosion is defined as the destructive and unintentional degradation of a material caused by its environment. Unfortunately for metals almost all environments can cause corrosion to some degree, since the corroded state is the more stable state.
Engineering materials commonly known as plastics, rubbers, and adhesives are all correctly referred to as polymers. Over 15,000 different types of polymers are commercially available and are categorised into 20 different families.
Composite materials, also referred to as composites, are a combination of two or more materials that are mixed or joined on a macroscopic level. Composite materials are used in engineering applications where a pure material cannot provide the specific set of properties that are required.