What materials did people use in Stone Age? Iron Age? Bronze Age? What made people rush, during the Gold Rush? The answers are pretty obvious. Many of the periods or events in human history are identified with some
materials. But, how our age will be called while looking back, in the future? The varieties are limitless. We can see polymers (or plastics) everywhere around us. The computers wouldn’t work without semiconductors. Many of the modern medical treatments rely on nanotechnology. The industrial revolution wouldn’t happen without the steel. And finally, the smartphones’ screens wouldn’t survive in our pockets without an advanced glass. Moreover, many of the fields are interlocked with each other. For example, under what title do you allocate polymers filled with metal or ceramic nanoparticles? The good news are that all materials engineering fields have common attributes. Regardless the exact field, many materials engineers struggle with miscibility, surface, and interface phenomena. To understand these phenomena we employ similar characterization techniques. At the end of the day, the interesting question is how these phenomena and fabrication process effect the mechanical, electrical and optical properties of the final product.
There are many good questions in materials science. And the only clear answer is that materials scientists and engineers need a very broad qualification and continuous fertilizing interactions with colleagues from other fields. The materials engineer that get exposed to wide range of materials engineering fields, will be capable to adjust his knowledge from one field to another.