Friday, February 9, 2018

Materials Science (Part 1)

Materials scientist Changhong Ke believes boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) will revolutionize the construction of future spacecraft (Photo credit: Jonathan Cohen at Binghamton University, UK)

The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also termed "materials science and engineering" involves the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. Material science is related to metallurgy, the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification.

Materials scientists have been responsible for the development of plastics, new alloys, and in the space industry they have created radiation shielding materials containing Hydrogen, Boron and Nitrogen.  

Changhong Ke's team working at Binghamton University in the UK found that boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) form stronger interfaces with epoxy and other polymers than comparable common carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

Metallurgists are materials scientists who specialize in metals such as steel, aluminum, iron, and copper. They often work with alloys, that is, metals that are mixed with each other metals or with other elements, to create materials with specific desirable properties.

One of the most important properties is tensile strength, or the resistance of a material to breaking under tension.

Another concern is corrosion, a natural process that converts a refined metal to a more chemically-stable form, such as its oxide, hydroxide, or sulfide. Corrosion is the gradual destruction of materials (usually metals) by chemical and/or electro-chemical reaction with their environment.

Copper slag found in the region of Edom, Abraham's territory

Among the biblical peoples there were clans that worked with metals and came to understand their properties. They were able to work these metals into useful objects such as knives, spear heads, sacred vessels for the temples, crown, and jewelry. The metal working clans kept their skills and knowledge a secret. By this means they had job security.

The metals worked by biblical metal workers included copper, gold, tin and silver. The oldest copper artifacts date to c. 9000 BC. They learned to alloy tin and copper to produce bronze.

Piles of waste material, called copper slag, have recently been discovered in ancient Edom, indicating large-scale mining operations there.

Royal metal workers created beautiful objects of gold, silver, cooper, and bronze. They made jewelry, knives, crowns, sacred vessels for the temples and shrines, and the gold ephod of the High Priest. They made the gold calves that King Jeroboam placed at the entrances to the shrines in Dan and Bethel in Israel. Moses fashioned a bronze serpent (Numbers 21) and Aaron fashioned a calf of gold (Exodus 32).

Related reading: The Afro-Asiatic Metal Workers, The Religious Symbolism of Gold, The Gold of Ophir; Humans Have Created 208 Species of Materials


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