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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Up for review - Top Ten Materials bookmarked to be at the forefront of Technology - Ten Years On

Readers are cordially invited to contribute - news of formal procedures and classical approaches, informal one's to my proposed review process 2008-2009. Hints and kick-off to "the new season provided below. Read on.

Directly linked to my previous post, I have enumerated the 10 Material Fields here:

1-Photonic materials allow light to be transmitted through solids and will therefore be able transmit information at very high speeds. Offering immense data-storage capabilities, they are certain to be important tools over the next hundred years, which has been hailed as the century of information technology.
2 -New types of magnetic materials will allow increased amounts of information to be stored. This is already one of the main areas of research in materials science.
3-Smart materials, which can react to outside stimuli, are already part of many of the important components found in the appliances used in daily life.
4 -Biomaterials have inspired materials scientists to study and copy nature's machinery. Together with biologists, they have developed biomaterials using well defined proteins under specific environmental conditions. Materials scientists are also looking at ways to use DNA to find new ways of storing information.
5 -Biomedical materials have many important practical applications, serving, for example, as implants in the human body. They need to be compatible with human tissue, and one day could even function as spare parts for the human body.
6 -Materials that can generate clean energy and store energy without polluting the environment could solve one of the biggest challenges of the next century - the provision of plentiful amounts of clean energy for the Earth's ever-increasing population.
7 -Porous materials with pores from a few atoms in size to thousands of atomic diameters act like sieves that can be used to select different compounds. They could be important for synthesizing other materials.
8 -Diamond and other hard materials can be used as very thin surface layers to toughen materials, such as industrial tools.
9 -Polymers that can be made by chain reaction allow scientists to develop materials with specific molecular architectures.
10 -Surface and interface science will be critical in the development of new materials. Techniques need to be developed that allow atoms to be imaged either directly on the surfaces of materials or with advanced electron microscopy.

Here I shall associate author P. Ball and 1998 reviewer Manfred Rühle. I have kicked-off, rapidly, a first impressions-"off-the cuff" 2008 review from memory as a professional avid Reader in and of the field(s) cf [JA]. Some of their original conclusions from the 1998 "foresight" exercise are as follows:

1 "Enormous progress that has been made over the past 20 years in these ten areas in an interesting and entertaining way. (P.Ball) [ Ball is Editor for the the Journal Nature. This is certainly true, ably assisted by scientific journalists and ever improving University and R&D communications, Science and Society initiatives, now supported throughout the EU. - JA]

2 "Engineers cannot simply pick whatever material they need from the shelf. The 21st century still holds many challenges for materials science. (Manfred Rühle) [They certainly try as far as possible - fortunately the "Materials Science Revival" brings it's load of complexities - JA]

3. Information technology and energy technology - two key areas over the next hundred years - will demand materials with ever more specific properties at ever smaller scales. (Manfred Rühle - taking little or no risks of being reviewed-current limits for biomedical-progress? despite unforeseen findings from to-day's CERN Big Collider start-up)[comment JA]

4. The nanoscale and the sub-nanoscale will probably be the most important dimensions in the future, although this may well lead to a revitalization of more traditional fields, such as friction, wear and corrosion. After all, advanced wear-free materials will be of great interest in these applications. (Manfred Rühle )

[4 bis Rapid review 2008.

Close to my own traditional fields I can honestly say that many signs of this "Materials Science & Engineering Revival are manifest, not only in response to the much over exaggerated claims made on each new finding especially in the nanotech field. Bio-medical fields have long test periods. Although the field is one of the most innovative, perhaps more action is required to reduce "time to market." but this is pure speculation on my part. (JA.)]

5. Materials scientists may also start to become interested in waste disposal and recycling. (Manfred Rühle) [Apparently climate change's dire warnings were not well known in the University labs and R&D in 1998- hard to swallow!-little communication between departments? - Normally R&D - plant & industrial materials scientist are highly aware of value lost through waste!- Ball editor of Nature and free-lance writer is well aware of these issues, in his No. 6 item "Clean abundant energy materials" from his Top-Materials List above and it's corollary Waste dare I say energy from waste roughly in the same proportion to our capacity to generate such material. My own Institute of Materials - Materials World, (free online) publishes regularly on progress in this from all areas of materials. Of course a reviewer is allowed only a short space compared to the author of a book- JA ]

[If the saying "Where there's muck there's money" remains true and is to a large extent: Warren Buffet, investor or again two biggest, global, firms in Water management are French and are expanding rapidly in waste management-euphemistically entitled "environmental services" -JA.]

6. The materials that Ball describes are all advanced - some, indeed, are quite exotic. They will provide challenges that are at the cutting-edge of research. [There is a continuous balance to be sought between the this classical approach and the more Northern UK - Science & Engineering school's epitomised by such motto's as "A place of useful learning" whose roots are in deprived areas. Are the latter better equipped to understand and provide answers for the 4/5 th of world markets needs or are their other hidden non-scientific hurdles in the way? - Thanking Nature in passing, for their Free, Multilingual, Open Journal - JA].

7. A by-product of this cutting-edge research underlined previously No6. will be the discovery of processes that are also relevant to more conventional materials. cf. Tradition material revival example from Cambridge, UK's, Bhadeshia cf my previous post-on HKDH Bhadeshia "Big Chunks of Nano-Steel vs Carbon Nanotubes & Materials Modelling.

NB. TBD-To be Done - a list of classical, traditional and new scientific journals may help provide answers to such a review call.

Sources: Based on P. Ball's book published in 1997 reviewed in 1998. (1) Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century, by Philip Ball, 1997 Princeton University Press 480pp. (2) Manfred Rühle reviewed P. Ball's book for physicsworld Manfred Rühle reviewed P. Ball's book for physicsworld, IOP-Inst. of Physics UK. M. Rühle is director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung, Stuttgart, Germany

Materials Science and Engineering Defined - Materials Science past performance and future previsions -up for review

Physics, chemistry and physical chemistry have undergone tremendous changes over the course of this century. In physics, the focus has shifted from atoms to subatomic particles, namely nuclear physics and particle physics.

It is rather fitting that to-day saw the "Guinness book of records" - successful start-up of the Worlds Biggest particle collider housed at CERN on or rather under the French-Swiss border. [cf. Footnote for a humours introduction peppered with serious links to CERN].

Meanwhile, the physics of collections of atoms in the liquid and solid states have slowly emerged as separate, independent fields.

After the Second World War, another interdisciplinary field emerged in the form of materials science, which combines metallurgy, physics, chemistry and physical chemistry. The goal of the subject is to synthesize materials such as metals, ceramics and polymers based on thermodynamic phase equilibria, reaction kinetics and our ability to characterize materials from the atomic level upwards. Particular attention is paid to the relationship between a material's microstructure and its bulk properties. Materials science also includes theoretical studies that deepen our understanding of the properties of materials, helping us to create new materials on a rational basis - rather than through trial and error alone.

Materials science can therefore be said to encompass all of the classical parts of science. (In fact an excellent example is given by the development and manufacture semi-conductors for the electronics industry. [my comment-JA]

Materials Technology & Engineering limits to Materials Science:
Early on, materials scientists and metallurgists tried to maximize a particular property, such as hardness, toughness, magnetization or conductivity. Great demands were made on developing materials with exceptional properties, such as ultimate strength. However, it soon became obvious that when it came to specific applications, advanced materials with various special properties were of little use unless they could be processed simply and straightforwardly. Thousands of materials have therefore been developed over the past 20 years - many with well defined and reproducible properties - but they have not been widely taken up by industry because they cost too much to make and are not particularly durable and may I add, classical engineering difficulties of scaling-up for many engineering applications. cf my previous post-on HKDH Bhadeshia "Big Chunks of Nano-Steel vs Carbon Nanotubes & Materials Modelling. The scale-up difficulty may also explain to some extent why materials scientists and the scientific community at large have massively moved to Richard Feynman's famous call: "There is plenty of room at the bottom". Here the materials scientist "does his own engineering -lab to lab at least in size and sometimes in terms of product volume or mass. But I am jumping the gun concerning Manfred Rühle's supportive conclusion!

Ball's response to critics is to underline the enormous progress achieved despite lack of adoption, or engineering deceptions (innovation from invention to market?). And bookmarks and describes 10 ten groups of materials that he thinks will be at the forefront of technology in the coming century.

Sources: Based on P. Ball's book published in 1997 reviewed in 1998.

(1) Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century, by Philip Ball, 1997 Princeton University Press 480pp.

(2) Manfred Rühle reviewed P. Ball's book for physicsworld Manfred Rühle reviewed P. Ball's book for physicsworld, IOP-Inst. of Physics UK.
M. Rühle is director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Metallforschung, Stuttgart, Germany

2 Footnotes:
-The attentive reader and researcher may have noticed that Ball's book is based on guesses, all be they very educated ones, made from the 20 or so period before 1998?
The next century is now, but to be fair it may be sound practise to consider a full review at this half-way period current 2008? Opinions, Comments welcome.

-CERN add-on of 11 Sept. 2008.
I did not intend to add to the undoubtedly vast collection of news feed on this delicate operation by I could not resist linking readers to this humorous introduction by Aussie friends at AZOM (A to Z on Material) in their News Letter 77. [Link]

The Ultimate in "materials" research :LHC-Large Hadron Collider.
From the news papers:
Some say it's a toy some ask if it's as dangerous as it sounds such is the
energy and complexity of the technology and engineering involved

The Hopes, and The Fears

The experts were right: I did go-off well. Ouf!
Now it is up to the "powers that be" that this valuable and costly team do not do a "Challenger Space Flight" type disaster. Good luck and perhaps more importantly scientific, technological, engineering and last but not least "excellent management communication." (quoted from R. Feynman's report to Congress on the "Challenger Enquiry. - an industrial metallurgist, materials scientist and engineer remembers!)

The Metallurgy.(link)

The Technology and Engineering in pictures (link) and their prestigious origins in the 1960's.

HIGGS was found Yes indeed Higgs himself, one of the most renowned Scots' Theoretical Physicist of the day was invited to visit CERN and the LHC. It now remains to find the illusive particle,"Higgs Boson"

Disclaimer: I am unable to reference this very homorous introduction, to CERN's LHC for copyright reasons, and absence of a direct link to our Aussie friends Newsletter MyAZoM. Instead I shall give the reader a link to their well documented Materials Website AZoM.

High Purity Cr sources for Superalloys

Energy for th Future:Phil.Trans.A-Vol. 365, N° 1853 / April 15, 2007, curtesy The Royal Soc. London

Engineered foams and porous materials: Phil Trans A. Vol 364, N° 1838 / 06 curtesy_The R Soc. Lond