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Through our courses and research opportunities, PRISM strives to give students a deep understanding of fundamental science and a great appreciation for technology development.  Both undergraduate and graduate students alike are well-prepared for the wide variety of future career opportunities. 

What is Materials Science?

World of Materials

The world around us is made up of Materials. Everything you use throughout the day- the IPod you listen to, the computer you work on, the shoes you walk in, even the food you eat-it’s all made of different stuff. Materials science is an interdisciplinary field at the crossroads of the natural sciences and engineering that seeks to understand this stuff, engineer new types of stuff and even improve the quality of stuff. 

Categories of Materials

Materials can be natural, like wood, or human-made, like plastic. There are over 300,000 different materials. As materials scientists create and combine materials in new ways, the number is almost infinite.

Metals- engines, buildings, airplanes, trains
Ceramics- glass, fiber optics, furnace
Semiconductors- computer chips, in mobile devices
Polymers- plastics, Gore-Tex, Plexiglas
Composites- steel, carbon-fiber bicycle
Biomaterials- materials part of a living being, i.e. skin
New Materials- aerogels, carbon nanotubes, graphine

What do Materials Scientists Do?

  • Determine the structure of materials
  • Measure properties of materials
  • Devise ways of processing materials, i.e. creating materials, transforming existing materials, and making useful things out of them.
  • Think about how a material is suited to the purpose it serves already and how it can be enhanced to give better performance.

Did you know?

Did you know that you could make a solar cell out of toothpaste and berries? Or that you can make a battery out of your loose change?

Dye-sensitized solar cell
Dye-sensitized solar cell

Did you know?

Did you know that diamonds, coal and pencils are all composed of the same material?