MINERALS

(Note that this is NOT an exhaustive list.)

Mineral fuels - uranium, thorium
- coal, oil
Iron
Ferroalloys - nickel, manganese, chromium, vanadium, molybdenum, cobalt, titanium, boron, tungsten.
(Add toughness, hardness, ductility,malleability, tensile strength, corrosion resistance)
Light metals - aluminum, magnesium, beryllium
Non-ferrous metals - copper, lead, zinc, tin, antimony
Precious metals - gold, silver, platinum
Fertilizers - nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium
Earth construction - clay, sand, gravel, limestone, granite, marble, gypsum
Gemstones - diamond, opal, topaz, ruby, emerald, sapphire
Other - sulphur, asbestos, cryolite, salt, silicon, mercury, cadmium, gallium, niobium

PLANT AND ANIMAL SOURCES

Plant fibres
wool
bristles
bone
rubber
wood
USGS Minerals Information

ARTIFICIAL MATERIALS

Composites (e.g. fibreglass, reinforced concrete)
Plastics (e.g. polymers)
Glass
Ceramics
"Living materials" (e.g. artificial skin, corfam)

Note these developments:
Nanotechnology
Nanoelectronics
Molecular Engineering
Critique of nanotechnology
Ferrofluids
Bacteriorhodopsin As An Intelligent Material
Biotechnology for the 21st Century: New Horizons
An Overview of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology Links

For more depth consult the list of topics in Materials Science

PHASES OF MATERIAL USE

  1. Localized iron and steel production
    (18th- l9th centuries)

  2. New ferrous and non-ferrous alloy production
    (19th- 20th centuries)
    - tungsten, nickel, cobalt, etc.
    - led to global interdependence

  3. Displacement of steel by composite materials and plastics
    (Post-World War 2)

  4. Capability to restructure material resources into almost any desired range of physical properties
    (20th - 21st centuries)
    - emphasize "performance standards" rather than any specific material
    - material may be of any substance as long as it meets perfomance standards
    - see Computational Chemistry for an update

MATERIALS PRODUCTION THROUGH MOLECULAR ENGINEERING

Changes in the way we produce materials for our clothing, buildings, and vehicles will continue in such a way that a major change may result in how we think about materials. At one time there was more of a one-to-one relationship between kind of use and the material needed. Warm clothing meant wool. Housing meant wood. Swords meant iron. There are now many different kinds of materials available to satisfy a need. New synthetic materials include polymers, glass, ceramics, composites. Our focus now tends to be on the "performance standards" which we want the material to meet, and we do not care what the source of the materials is. Thus materials are designed to specifications and essentially built up molecule by molecule. This process is, of course, aided by computer software which can simulate the properties of the material thus accelerating, and making more directed, the search for an optimal material. Such a development weakens the economies of those countries and regions which are dependent upon the export of raw materials such as wool, wood and various metals (iron, copper, aluminum). Further reducing the need for materials is the trend toward the miniaturization (downsizing) of products (such as computers and other electronic gadgetry) and ephemeralization (use of lighter but stronger materials).

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