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Materials Science

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

A new and intrinsically interdisciplinary research sector that sees physicists, chemists, engineers. and even biologists at work, in an increasingly cooperative manner, “exploring the vastity of the subject” with the sole purpose of fabricating new sources of innovation: we are talking about materials science.

What is materials science?

Materials science is the study of the properties of solid materials and how those properties are determined by a material’s composition and structure. With a basic understanding of these properties, materials can be selected or designed for an enormous variety of applications, ranging from structural steels to computer microchips. The main classes of materials are metals, semiconductors, ceramics and polymers. New and advanced materials that are being developed include nanomaterials, biomaterials, and energy materials to name a few.

Materials science is also important to engineering activities such as electronics, aerospace, telecommunications, information processing, nuclear power, and energy conversion.

Materials Science Market Insights

Materials science is at the forefront of significant challenges affecting the global economy. As businesses accelerate towards a low emission, automated future; materials are having to keep pace and consequently adapt. The worldwide material market was worth $149 million in 2015, and is projected to achieve $1,387 million by 2022, developing at a CAGR of 39.7%. This exponential growth is justified by mainly three key driving trends. Thanks to a spate of recent advancements in materials science, vehicles and planes have become lighter; robots are capable of learning and working inn testing conditions., and green technologies are becoming more and more ubiquitous.

Materials science is playing a crucial role in facilitating their upward-sloping trajectory. As energy efficiency and environmental protection climb further up the list of priorities, so do light materials and advanced materials technologies. It is projected that an approximately USD 354 billion market will be created for high strength steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber over the next two decades. To clarify, lightweighting is a term often used in the automotive and aviation industries. It refers to the process of building cars, trucks, and planes that are less heavy in order to achieve better fuel efficiency and handling. It goes without saying that reducing the mass of a vehicle can have huge environmental benefits, too. One figure suggests that reducing an automobile’s weight by just 50g reduces CO2 emissions by up to 5g every kilometer. All the while increasing fuel economy by up to 2%. Lightweighting in the automotive industry will have ramped up significantly by 2030, with one report suggesting that the market share of lightweight automobiles will grow from 30% to 70% of the industry where much of this growth is due to the increasing dominance of electric vehicles.

Another trend that needs to be taken into account regards robots and their usage. The industrial robotics industry is expected to grow 175% over the next nine years. By 2025, it’s expected that the demand for electronics manufacturing robots will match the automotive industry. The long-term cost advantages that come with robotics is generating interest in a wide range of industries.

Innovations in key technologies are giving robots human-like qualities, 3D embedded vision; multispectral and hyperspectral imaging; as well as in AI and deep learning; are making robots more autonomous and better able to handle complex tasks.

The last trend we consider is about green economy and its related technologies. The need for greener technologies is universally recognized, therefore we should expect a widespread adoption of those that will involve both emerging economies as well as developed markets.

Top Materials Science Companies

Among the best material science companies in the world we find:

  • Pfizer

  • AstraZeneca

  • Geltor

  • Lonza

  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

  • BASF

  • CarbonCure Technologies

  • Atonarp

Materials Science Industry in the Press

Regarding materials science, roughly 60,000 scientific articles are published ever year on the 11,500 most well-known international magazines which are part of the Web of Science organized by Thomson Reuters. Statistics sees China as the leader in terms of publications with 11,000 on average, followed by the United States with 7,600, Japan with 5,100, Germany with 3,300, and India with 1,200. An important role on this regard is played by Academies and Universities. Above all, we have the University of Washington and the University of California Santa Barbara.


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