What are materials? They are the “stuff” that
makes up things in the world. We depend on materials for life’s essentials and
pleasures. Materials comprise buildings, roads, clothing, X-ray machines and
laboratory instruments, books, computers, CDs and DVDs. Materials scientists
provide ultra-strong “super materials” for jet airplanes, space ships, nuclear
power plants, and industrial equipment and processes. They discover new
materials that are stronger, lighter, and more durable, and find ways to give
existing materials those key properties. Materials scientists also develop ways
of manufacturing new materials in the huge quantities needed for commercial
Years ago, people had access only to materials that exist in nature -- wood;
animal skin, tendon, bone, and hair; plant fibers; stone and other minerals.
Then they learned how to use those raw materials to make aluminum, iron, glass,
ceramics, and other products that were part natural and partly the work of human
ingenuity. Ohioans helped open the new era of synthetic materials like
cellophane, Fiberglas, PVC plastic, liquid crystals, and Teflon.