Understanding Materials Science

History · Properties · Applications

  • Rolf E. Hummel

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Mechanical Properties of Materials

  3. Electronic Properties of Materials

  4. Materials and the World

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 413-440

About this book


This introduction to materials science both for students of engineering and physics and for the interested general public examines not only the physical and engineering properties of virtually all kinds of materials, but also their history, uses, development, and some of the implications of resource depletion and recycling. It covers all topics on materials from an entirely novel perspective: the role materials have played throughout history in the development of humankind and technologies. Specifically, it shows the connection between the technical and the cultural, economic, ecological, and societal aspects of materials science. It aims to whet the appetite of its readers and inspire them to further explore the properties and applications of metals, alloys, ceramics, plastics, and electronic materials by presenting easily understandable explanations and entertaining historical facts. It is also intended to raise the reader’s awareness of their obligations to society as practicing engineers and scientists.

The new edition includes numerous additions and clarifications such as:

The treatment of "high-tech ceramics" has been substantially expanded to include topics such as silicon nitride ceramics, transformation-toughened zirconia, alumina, bioceramics, cutting tools, cermets, armor, and more.

A section on composite materials has been added, including fiber-reinforced, particular, and laminar composites.

New trends such as "nanomaterials by severe plastic deformation," and a rendition of Moore’s law have been added to the final chapter.

The Economic and Environmental Considerations chapter has been rewritten and expanded to include updated statistical information on prices of materials, production figures, world reserves, consumption, and new recycling data.

The iron and steel production statistics, and the gold production and consumption figures have been updated.

Acclaim for the first edition of Understanding Materials Science:

"Hummel tries - and succeeds - to relate the historical developments in the various materials eras (stone, bronze, iron, and electronic) to the principle defining features of the various classes of materials...An additional aspect of materials that is nicely covered … is the environmental and economic implications of society's use of materials. The discussions of world resources, the remaining supply of various materials and the fundamental underlying waste disposal and recycling will be fascinating to both the science student and the general reader."

Physics Today

"By showing how materials shaped civilization and advanced it at critical times, the author has created a book that should arouse the interest of readers. The history, properties and applications of materials that are woven into each chapter should be a good motivating force for learning."

Choice Magazine

"…Hummel…has succeeded admirably in rendering intrinsically complicated topics, such as polymerization, palatable, and digestible...This mix of proper science and respectable history is something new among the plethora of materials science books."

MRS Bulletin


Materials Metall Textbook alloy ceramics iron magnetic properties materials science semiconductors

Authors and affiliations

  • Rolf E. Hummel
    • 1
  1. 1.College of EngineeringUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Bibliographic information