We Live in a Materials World

Material science and engineering is one of those things that I always find difficult to explain to people in a way that makes them feel as excited as I get when I read about recent advances in materials.

I could say that the entire world is made up of materials that have an array of characteristics that make life as we know it possible but that’s still too vague and it doesn’t get anyone (apart from a select group of my nerd friends) my level of excitement.

So, here I’ll attempt to explain aspects of materials that in an informative and slightly entertaining way (mostly informative).

What is material science and engineering?

Material science is the study of everything. Think to your everyday life and all the technologies we use; they are made up of a fascinating array of materials.

Materials scientists study the properties (optical, electrical, magnetic, physical, chemical, etc) of materials and how those properties are determined by the structure of the materials and the components in its makeup.

Basically, we try to understand why materials with the atoms arranged in a certain way have magical properties (I think materials are magical).

In our journey as materials researchers we go through a process whenever we find new materials and new properties in materials, we thought we knew everything about (no scientist thinks that. I hope).

Why do materials matter?

Materials are as old as human civilisation and have long driven what we can do as a race. Think ancient times when we engineered weapons and shelter; think engines and fuel; think spacecrafts and solar cells; battery technology; phones; buildings; medicines that release at certain parts in the body; sensors and much more.

Every materials scientist is a drop of technological advancement in the ocean that’s ever expanding in terms of innovations of materials (discovery, engineering and development) and applications.

About Dr. Mohammad Taha

Dr Mohammad Taha (They/The) is the co-chair of the Victorian chapter of Queers in Science, a researcher at the Melbourne School of Engineering and a non-binary queer person of colour.

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