Materials Science: "The Study of Stuff"

Monday, November 3, 2014

For those of us who are not science minded, we are touching on the basics (and we mean basics) of materials science and its use in everyday life.

Materials Science is the study and examination of everyday materials. In Layman’s terms you could call it the “Study of Stuff”. Each and every product that you use everyday is created using some sort of material. It is the Material Scientists job to examine and understand how those materials are put together and used to their maximum efficiency. And more often than not, they are required to examine why certain materials have failed.

There are over 300,000 different known materials in the world, not counting the infinite number of combinations of newfound materials that have yet to be discovered. That being said, the term materials can be broken down into numerous categories. The largest of the categories is natural - like wood, and man-made - like plastic.  We also classify materials in a few general categories like metals, ceramics, polymers, etc.

Metals: While pretty self-explanatory, metals are engineered components of different raw materials, which scientists have created for a specific purpose. These days, metals are being used in engineering projects of all shapes and sizes.

Ceramics: These are typically used to create bone or tooth replacements, heavy-duty cutting tools or conduct electricity.

Polymers: Polymers are large molecules made of smaller molecules linked together in repeating chains. Items like rubber bands, paints and plastics are all composed of polymers.

Composites: These combinations of materials often produce new properties that are radically different, and better than any one single material. These can be something as simple as concrete reinforced steel or as eccentric as an ultra light carbon fiber.

Biomaterials: The term Biomaterial comes from the idea of bodily materials which enable you to survive. Biomaterials are designed to mimic the natural materials produced by the body to serve other purposes.

Materials Scientist's are the brains behind this endeavor. They are knowledgeable about a variety of fields such as chemistry, biology and physics. They are often called ceramic or polymer engineers or known as metallurgists. You can typically find them working in laboratories like ours, and universities all over the world.

To learn more about  Materials Science or Miami Valley Materials Testing Center’s testing capabilities please visit or shoot us an email at

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