Crystal maze survey reveals the big picture

Properties of Materials: Anisotropy, Symmetry, Structure. First edition
December 2, 2005

The properties of crystalline or polycrystalline solids, metals and ceramics in particular, are determined fundamentally by the crystal structure that defines their atomic constitution. Remarkably, their macroscopic behaviour can often be predicted by understanding their properties on the atomic scale. Crystal chemistry and its relation to the macroscopic properties of crystalline and polycrystalline solids is thus key to understanding the properties of a large number of materials for electrical, magnetic, optical, electronic, acoustic and structural applications.

Properties of Materials gives an excellent insight based directly on the symmetry and associated properties of the crystals from which the materials are composed. This includes a general introduction to the various classes of electrical, magnetic and structural materials and how these subdivide into smaller functional groups. A particular strength of this book is its introduction of the mathematics of tensors (multi-component vectors), which is fundamental to analysing highly symmetric systems, and how this branch of mathematics can describe and ultimately simplify materials properties on an atomic scale. The detailed use of tensors is frequently overlooked in undergraduate texts on materials; its inclusion enables this book to offer more sophisticated insight.

Context is provided by a comprehensive description of the various crystal symmetries and their relationship to the general thermodynamic properties of materials via tensors. Individual classes and sub-classes of materials based mainly on ferroelectric, ferromagnetic, optical and conductor applications are then presented within the context of the crystal chemistry covered in the early chapters. The fundamental science is used to account for macroscopic, measurable properties of materials. Finally, the often subtle effects of anisotropy (a variation in properties along different directions through a material) are described in the last chapter, pointing readers to the next level of complexity in understanding the properties of materials.

This book is a clear academic authority on the properties of a breadth of crystalline and polycrystalline materials for many applications. It is particularly suitable for science and engineering students in the final years of undergraduate studies and a useful reference for research students in electrical, magnetic and optical materials science and engineering.

David Cardwell is professor of superconducting engineering, Cambridge University.

Properties of Materials: Anisotropy, Symmetry, Structure. First edition

Author - Robert E. Newnham
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Pages - 378
Price - £69.95 and £32.50
ISBN - 0 19 852075 1 and 852076 X

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