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I'm currently a chemistry major and now I am considering doing a minor in materials science.

Before making a decision, I would like to know how the two disciplines are related and what are their differences such as techniques, approaches, emphasis, etc.

How will my knowledge in chemistry be useful in my understanding of materials science, and how useful is a knowledge of materials science to a chemist?

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An undergraduate chemistry course here in the UK typically has a materials component to it in the form of a module or two, so you bet they're related!

It's sometimes not that fruitful to view materials science and chemistry as a different subject—much like physic vs chemistry—however we can associate certain motivations to either topic as we see fit. Please note that this is quite subjective; this view does indeed vary from person to person.

First of all, materials is more interested in the solid state than chemistry in general. We might like to look at crystal structures via x-ray crystallography (see Bravais lattices, space groups etc.) as well as the rather intriguing quasi-crystals (for which Dan Shectman won the Nobel in Chemistry in 2011). The skills gained in a materials crystallography course would no doubt help with chemistry. The converse is also true since many substances in chemistry are amenable to study via crystallography, such as proteins. You therefore may also have a crystallography module in your chemistry course—looking at molecules in the solid state not typically viewed as a 'material'. If it has appreciable electron density, you can study it by x-ray crystallography!

Another aspect of materials science looks at properties of materials, such as stress/strain curves etc.I've had such a lecture series specifically dealing with polymers in a chemistry course; one of the challenges of modern day chemistry is to invent and modify polymer architectures for specific industrial applications. It's clear then that chemistry and materials science complement each other here. Whilst materials looks at interesting properties of given materials, chemistry constructs those polymers.

Materials science can differ from chemistry in that it focuses (or at least did in my case) on the band-structure of solids more than chemistry does. So it's possible that a materials course would give you a more nuanced appreciation of semi-conductors and the like. Again, this would help overwhelmingly if you decided to go into the field of conducting polymers—a currently very active field in R&D, especially if it involves replacing rare earths.

To summarise: materials science and chemistry go hand in hand in my quick overview, however some aspects of chemistry (such as organic) view the solid-state as the 'graveyard of chemistry'—you'd be hard pressed to find reactions which occur in the solid state! If you want to find out a little more before delving into materials, then finding a quick Youtube course might help to sway you either way. In my opinion there are far more ridiculous pairings in the world than chemistry and materials!

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