M A T E R I A L   S C I E N C E  &  E N G I N E E R I N G      

Material Classes

Material Structure





Physical Properties

Material Selection

Material Processing

Example Case Studies

Material Structure

The first thing you may have thought of when you hear "structure" is the arrangement of materials in a bridge or building. This idea for structure is similar to the structure in any given material, called material structure. Instead of materials arranged and connected to make a bridge structure, material structures are based on atomic bonding and chemical composition. Atomic bonding is the attraction of elements within a material matrix, its essential composition. The chemical composition is the amount of each element in the material matrix. There are three primary types of bonding: ionic, covalent, and metallic.

In this material matrix, the bonding and composition results in a organization called a lattice. All materials can be classified according to the pattern of the lattice within the material matrix. We can break the kinds of patterns into two parts:

If the lattice is repeatable and touching each other, it is a crystalline structure. More often than not, there can be many crystalline structures with any given material such as the metal alloys that make the legs of a classroom chair. With many different orientations or sorts of crystals, crystalline structures still touch each other that results in microstructures. Microstructures are grains which are uniform sections of the lattice and boundaries around the individual grains called grain boundaries.

If the lattice are arranged in a random structure, it is amorphous. Glass material is a perfect example of an amorphous structured material.

As a material is formed, there are affects to its' structure that result directly from how the material is processed. Please see material processing for more investigation.

Copyright © 2006 CES Information Guide - Materials Science Engineering