This relatively new scientific field investigates the relationship between the structure of materials at atomic or molecular scales and their macroscopic properties. It incorporates elements of applied physics and chemistry. With significant media attention focused on Nano science and nanotechnology in recent years, materials science is becoming more widely known as a specific field of science and engineering.
Below is a list of disciplines within or related to the materials science field. These range from biomaterials, to ceramics, to metals, to textile reinforced materials.
- Biomaterials - materials that are derived from and/or used with life forms.
- Ceramography - the study of the microstructures of high-temperature materials and refractories, including structural ceramics such as RCC, polycrystalline silicon carbide and transformation toughened ceramics.
- Crystallography - the study of regular arrangement of atoms and ions in a solid, the defects associated with crystal structures such as grain boundaries and dislocations, and the characterization of these structures and their relation to physical properties.
- Electronic and magnetic materials - materials such as semiconductors used to create integrated circuits, storage media, sensors, and other devices.
- Forensic engineering - the study of how products fail, and the vital role of the materials of construction.
- Forensic materials engineering - the study of material failure, and the light it sheds on how engineers specify materials in their product.
- Glass science - any non-crystalline material including inorganic glasses, vitreous metals and non-oxide glasses.
- Materials characterization - such as diffraction with x-rays, electrons, or neutrons, and various forms of spectroscopy and chemical analysis such as Raman spectroscopy, energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), chromatography, thermal analysis, electron microscope analysis, etc., in order to understand and define the properties of materials.
- Metallography - Metallography is the study of the physical structure and components of metals, typically using microscopy.
- Metallurgy - the study of metals and their alloys, including their extraction, microstructure and processing.
- Microtechnology - study of materials and processes and their interaction, allowing microfabrication of structures of micrometric dimensions, such as Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
- Nanotechnology - rigorously, the study of materials where the effects of quantum confinement, the Gibbs-Thomson effect, or any other effect only present at the nanoscale is the defining property of the material; but more commonly, it is the creation and study of materials whose defining structural properties are anywhere from less than a nanometer to one hundred nanometers in scale, such as molecularly engineered materials.
- Rheology - Some practitioners consider rheology a sub-field of materials science, because it can cover any material that flows. However, modern rheology typically deals with non-Newtonian fluid dynamics, so it is often considered a sub-field of continuum mechanics. See also granular material.
- Surface science/catalysis - interactions and structures between solid-gas solid-liquid or solid-solid interfaces.
- Textile reinforced materials - materials in the form of ceramic or concrete are reinforced with a primarily woven or non-woven textile structure to impose high strength with comparatively more flexibility to withstand vibrations and sudden jerks.
- Tribology - the study of the wear of materials due to friction and other factors.