Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Introduction to Material Science

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Metallurgy and Materials Engineering

DESCRIPTION The different classes of materials (metals and their alloys, ceramics, polymers and composites) and their basic properties (mechanical, thermal, optical, degradative) are introduced.

The basic structure of the atom is presented. Primary and secondary bonding between atoms/and molecular structures are reviewed and materials are classified according to bond-types. The metallic bond is emphasized and basic packing of metal atoms (hard spheres) into cubic crystal unit cell arrangements (BCC and FCC) is described in detail. A distinction is made between amorphous and crystalline material types and the microstructure of metals is elucidated. The different types of defects in metallic crystals are reviewed with particular emphasis given to dislocations. The mass movement of dislocations in Metals explains their plastic behavior under tensile stress. Dislocation theory is used to explain strengthening mechanisms of metals by work hardening (cold working), alloying and grain refinement. The bulk mechanical properties of materials such as tensile, compressive and shear strength, toughness and hardness are briefly reviewed.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to present the fundamental properties of materials, including metals, polymers, ceramics and composites. The study-unit material gives the student an appreciation of the relationship between material properties such as strength, toughness, rigidity and thermal conductivity to the material structure.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Provide examples of the different classes of materials, namely metals, ceramics, composites and polymers.
- Describe the basic structure of the atom, how electrons fit around atoms, and how these electrons are involved in bonding to form primary (covalent, ionic etc.) and secondary type-bonds.
- Describe how metal atoms pack in regular arrangements (lattices) in BCC and FCC cubic crystal system.
- Distinguish between crystalline and amorphous materials and list main types of imperfections (defects) occurring in the crystalline lattice.
- Describe how plastic deformation in metallic materials is brought about by the mass movements of dislocations and methods devised to stall/slow down these movements thereby improving the strength of materials.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Describe imperfections and dislocation theory in crystalline solids and state how these affect the strength of metallic materials.
- Describe bulk mechanical, thermal and optical properties of a range of engineering materials encountered in the building and construction industry.
- Apply the concepts covered in this study unit to understand more advanced course-work presented in later study-units which relate to the properties of select engineering materials and their degradation properties.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Textbook:

Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction - W. D. Callister (Wiley, 2006).

Supplementary Reading:

Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers - J. F. Shackelford (Pretence Hall, 2008).

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Independent Study & Tutorial

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Project SEM2 No 25%
Examination (1 Hour and 30 Minutes) SEM2 Yes 75%

LECTURER/S Daniel Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.