University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering

 

MS&E is one of the most exciting areas in science and engineering. Success in engineering stronger, faster, lighter, smaller, and better materials is rooted in developing a fundamental understanding of:

How materials are structured on the atom-by-atom, nanometer (one billionth of a meter), and micrometer (one millionth of a meter) scales;

 

How the structure of a material determines its properties, characteristics, and performance; and,

 

How materials can be grown, synthesized, and processed to have the structure and properties that are desired.

 

The tools used and developed by Materials Scientists and Engineers include:

Atomic resolution microscopes, which let us “see” atoms and nanometer features in materials that are impossible to see using a standard light microscope and that let us map out the composition and structure of materials, atom by atom;



Analytical instruments the measured x-ray, electron, and neutron scattering and spectroscopy tools that allow us to determine the structure and composition of materials on their surfaces and in their bulk;


Mechanical, electrical, and optical testing instrumentation that allow us to characterize the properties of a material as a function of its structure and processing;


Computational modeling, which allow us to simulate and understand the characteristics of a material, virtually without even making it, and to predict or design new materials; and,


Human ingenuity, which drives us to invent, discover, and engineer.
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What is Materials Science and Engineering?

The discovery of new materials and improvement of existing ones are crucial to bettering our quality of life and solving critical technological and societal problems.  Making safe, fuel efficient vehicles requires light weight, strong materials. Improving the performance of jet engines requires new materials that can be used at high temperature. Increasing the computing capabilities of microprocessors requires improved materials for use in ever smaller integrated circuits. Developing new fuels and new sources of energy involve designing new materials for energy conversion and transmission. Integration of advanced capabilities in electronics with medicine or the environment requires the development of new materials systems with that exhibit high performance and stability in harsh environments. These challenges are among the many types that materials scientists and engineers take on in their daily routines. 

 

MS&E is one of the most exciting areas in science and engineering.  Success in engineering stronger, faster, lighter, smaller, and better materials is rooted in developing a fundamental understanding of:

 

  • How materials are structured on the atom-by-atom, nanometer (one billionth of a meter), and micrometer (one millionth of a meter) scales;
  • How the structure of a material determines its properties, characteristics, and performance; and,
  • How materials can be grown, synthesized, and processed to have the structure and properties that are desired.

 

The tools used and developed by Materials Scientists and Engineers include:

 

  • Atomic resolution microscopes, which let us “see” atoms and nanometer features in materials that are impossible to see using a standard light microscope and that let us map out the composition and structure of materials, atom by atom;
  • Analytical instruments the measured x-ray, electron, and neutron scattering and spectroscopy tools that allow us to determine the structure and composition of materials on their surfaces and in their bulk;
  • Mechanical, electrical, and optical testing instrumentation that allow us to characterize the properties of a material as a function of its structure and processing;
  • Computational modeling, which allow us to simulate and understand the characteristics of a material, virtually without even making it, and to predict or design new materials; and,
  • Human ingenuity, which drives us to invent, discover, and engineer.

 

Students who enjoy the sciences and are interested in applying the sciences to real world technologies should consider a curriculum and career in MS&E:

 

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Learn more about materials science from the series of videos below

 

Kevlar is a polymeric material that is strong and tough enough to stop a bullet:

 

 Shape memory alloys being developed by Materials Scientists and Engineers have exciting applications ranging from robotics to medicine:

 

 Materials Scientists and Engineers drive transformative advances in micro- and nano-electronics. See how new HfO2 materials have increased the speed and energy efficiency of computer chips made by Intel:

 

Materials Scientists and Engineers at NASA and around the world are developing new materials that can heal themselves:

 

 Materials Scientists' and Engineers' expertise is critical to solving problems in companies that make products for consumers, structural applications, transportation, computing, renewable energy, medicine,and in just about every industry vital to society. View one example of what it is like to be a Materials Engineer at 3M:

 

 

Learn more about Materials Science and Engineering and new opportunities for using powerful computers to predict the properties of materials and to design new ones, from this video from NanoHub:

 

Nanotechnology is at the heart of Materials Science and Engineering. Learn more about nanotechnology from this documentary:

 

 

New materials like these printable semiconductor inks from Nanosolar have the potential to revolutionize solar cells, making them less expensive and more efficient, and thus more economically competitive:

 

 

Watch how new materials developed by Materials Scientists and Engineers are advancing applications like nanorobotics:

 

 

Materials Scientists and Engineers are developing new materials that allow for greater energy storage and faster power delivery:

 

 

Materials Scientists and Engineers studying structural materials investigate not just how to make materials with higher tensile strength but a number of other characteristics as well, such as toughness: