Are We Living In A Material World?

Date:   Tuesday , January 26, 2016

Material Science may not be a layman\'s term but do you know today\'s modern society uses it in almost all forms? From lightweight composites for faster vehicles, or optical fibres for telecommunications to concrete that makes the building you live in; all these are products of material sciences. Any new innovation that has a positive impact on our lives today is a result of material sciences.

So let us understand what exactly is Material Science?

Material science is a broad field of study exploring the vast potential of solid matter in a boundless array of applications. The creativity, curiosity, technical knowledge, and persistence of material scientists has resulted in more life-changing innovations than most of us can imagine. Powerful semiconductors, artificial joints, housing to withstand the stormiest weather - all these are the innovative works of materials scientists and their teams in the lab.

How materials have transformed society and culture?

Throughout history, materials have transformed society and culture. There was the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age. This is the Glass Age. Where information moves at the speed of light! Where devices are as sophisticated as they are beautiful! Where every day surfaces provide extraordinary benefits! Engineers, architects, artists, scientists, and more are using glass to achieve the impossible.

From early days of innovation and development, glass has played an important role in changing the healthcare industry with mass commercialization of penicillin during World War II as well as development, manufacture, and distribution of the polio vaccine in the 1950s.

Today, one finds glass available in ultra-slim, durable and flexible compositions which can be rolled up like a sheet of paper or flex likewire. These capabilities bring strength and flexibility together in a whole new way, creating exciting new opportunities for glass, and proving that while glass can bend, its versatility enables a range of applications.

New innovations in printing on glass are also opening up endless options for decoration and design. The optical purity of the glass optimizes the bright, vibrant colors of imagery, while the durability of the glass creates a remarkably tough, thin, and lightweight form-factor. These combined attributes give designers and architects the opportunity to create a new design aesthetic with glass.

While many think that glass is a brittle material, it is extremely tough and durable. In fact, by manipulating the structure of the glass, it becomes tough enough to withstand the impact of a baseball thrown at more than 60 mph. Glass is also tough enough for windows on the space shuttle entering the atmosphere at 25,000 km per hour, or for withstanding hurricane-force winds and severe hail storms.

Adding different surface technologies to glass enables it to resist bacteria, stains, glaring reflections, and even smudges. The adaptability of glass makes it an ideal candidate for enabling touch screens, high resolution displays, and optical fibre.

Glass now enables us to communicate globally over high-speed networks as pulses of light zoom through hair-thin strands. It brings vivid, lifelike images to the handheld screens we carry with us everywhere. It lays the foundation for new drug discovery, for faster semiconductors, for game-changing ways of manufacturing chemicals.

With nearly limitless combinations of elements, heat, and processing at their disposal, glass scientists and engineers are just getting started. They passionately believe - and are proving every day - that the greatest potential of glass has yet to be discovered.

The future of our world will see a \'day made of glass\' become a reality. From cars, retail windows, kitchen hubs to an infotainment wall, everything will see the influence of glass making the impossible possible.