Material science, also known as material science and ­ engineering, is an interdisciplinary field (involving all branches of science and combining them with manufacturing technology) that deals with the discovery and design of new materials. Materials created range from nanotechnology to advanced polymers. A relatively new scientific field that involves studying the synthesis, structure, properties and performance of materials, this discipline has a broad purpose — solving engineering problems.
Material science incorporates elements of physics and chemistry and is also at the forefront of nanoscience and nanotechnology research. In recent years, the discipline has become more widely acknowledged as a specific field of science and engineering and is focussed on creating new technological developments based on cutting-edge scientific advances. Many of the most pressing scientific problems faced today are due to the limitations of the materials that are available and, as a result, breakthroughs in this field are likely to have a significant impact on the future of technology.
Material science is also an important part of forensic engineering which is essentially the investigation of materials, products, structures or components that fail or do not operate or function as intended, causing personal injury or damage to property.
The materials science degree offered by leading universities across the world is essentially designed to provide the graduate with a suitable background for employment in the constantly emerging field of electronic ­materials.
Students receive experience in high-technology materials synthesis and characterisation, including the operation and design of the equipment used to make integrated circuits. Graduates are prepared for employment in areas of semiconductor manufacturing, electronic material development and structural composite development, materials synthesis and testing, and other industries where high technology processing and development are required.
The courses offered in the undergraduate programme include subjects like general chemistry, analytic geometry and calculus, introduction to computing, advanced geometry and calculus, multivariate calculus, differential equations, circuits, signals and controls, mathematics, technical writing, circuit analysis, electronics and magnetism, thermodynamics of materials, structure of solids, nuclear and particle physics and quantum mechanics. Given the interdisciplinary essence of this discipline, professionals cannot afford to work in silos.
The author is assistant vice president, international programmes, Missouri State University, US