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What is a Materials Scientist?

By Haven Esme
Updated May 17, 2024
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Every material in the universe is structured in a certain way. A materials scientist investigates this structure to gain fresh information on how to create new materials. In essence, a materials scientist is an individual who searches for new knowledge about materials. For example, in July 2009, the Stanford Institute for Material Science discovered a new material that is similar to silicon but better. Experimenting with different chemicals and materials enables scientists to determine how new materials can be used to improve the world.

Most of the things that people use in their daily lives such as soap, shoes, makeup, cups, containers, and much more were all created by a materials scientist. The scientists are most famous for the role they play in creating packaging materials. The main goal of a material scientist is to understand old materials so that new materials with better properties can be created. The materials created could be something as simple as cosmetics to something more complex like a computer chip. Materials scientists examine a broad range of products and technologies and work with a variety of companies in developing new materials.

Materials scientist often study the composition and structure of matter to build new things. In addition to new creations, the scientist will also find ways to enhance already existing materials. Learning how to strengthen material so that things are more sustainable is also a duty of material scientists. It was material scientists who discovered how to petrify wood so that it would be more resistant to pests, and they are the ones who make man-made materials lighter, harder, stronger, and more durable.

Materials science is often heavily involved in environmental studies and has a goal of creating sustainability and less waste in the world. Most materials scientists are employed by manufacturing firms that produce organic chemicals, paints, fertilizers, synthetic materials, plastics, and much more. The science requires studying chemistry, applied physics, and various types of engineering, so in most cases materials scientists have a degree specifically focused on physics or chemistry.

Sometimes a materials scientist will use new knowledge to improve paints, adhesives, synthetic fibers, and thousands of other everyday products. The main goal of a materials scientist is to improve the current materials that are available today, and also reduce pollution and energy. Hopefully, materials scientists will play a future role in saving the environment from the ill effects of vast amounts of waste by creating better materials.

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Discussion Comments

By Penzance356 — On May 05, 2011

When my parents first started camping they didn't have the modern, lightweight and insulating clothing or tents that are popular these days. I guess these advances are all down to the experiments of a material scientist somewhere in the world!

By Windchime — On May 03, 2011

@MissMuffet - I think this kind of work is good for people who are creative. Sometimes there's a kind of stereotype of scientists as being technical and unimaginative. That's not true in this kind of job though.

Other useful qualities would be being good at details, computer things and planning.

By MissMuffet — On Apr 30, 2011

Material scientist jobs sound really interesting and wide ranging. Apart from having a relevant degree, what other skills and personal qualities are needed for this kind of work?

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