Author: Mary Anne White
Publisher: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis
Materials science - comprising metallurgy, polymer science and ceramics - is a versatile scientific discipline relevant to physics, chemistry and engineering disciplines including mechanical, chemical, electrical, aeronautical and civil. It is imperative for any aspiring engineer or scientist to grasp its fundamentals, and the field of physical properties of materials is one of the most important subject areas in this discipline.
There are several books in print that summarise the physical properties of materials. Some provide an in-depth analysis of particular areas while others deal with a broader but less comprehensive range. This text, as the author clarifies, is aimed uncompromisingly at materials science, physics and chemistry students, or those who already have a grasp of the fundamentals of these disciplines up to and beyond that covered in the first year of a bachelor's degree course.
Mary Anne White's text is conversational in tone, and to an extent it could complement a number of well-known "introduction to materials science" textbooks as further reading. However, students who are not familiar with the core fundamentals of the subject area or who are not numerically proficient in pure maths may find the book intimidating.
It offers a concise but in-depth insight into the physical aspects of materials science, including optical, thermal, electrical, magnetic and mechanical properties of materials. Illustrations are thoughtfully deployed to underpin the explanation of theories. Although the book includes examples intended to facilitate comprehension, it would probably have been beneficial if more worked examples were included (in other words, worked solutions to some of the problems at the end of chapters to aid exam revision).
Because the book concentrates impressively and almost exclusively on the field of the physical chemistry of materials, with some reference to the properties of groups of materials, the textbook's title is somewhat misleading. In such a diverse discipline as materials science, it is virtually impossible to do justice to the whole subject area (especially at intermediate/advanced levels) without compromising certain areas. Perhaps the text could have devoted a little more weight to the properties of the main groups of materials, such as metals, polymers, ceramics, glasses, composites and concrete. Given the content, it would have been more appropriate to call the book something along the lines of Theory of the Physical Chemistry of Materials.
Nevertheless, White expertly deals with the theory of the physical properties of materials, and the book offers a succinct but comprehensive coverage of this area.
Who is it for? Materials science undergraduates and aspiring postgraduates; undergraduates and postgraduates in physics and chemistry.
Presentation: Excellent balance between text and illustrations; very helpful highlighted sections in each chapter to facilitate understanding.
Would you recommend it? Yes, to anyone studying physics and chemistry at any level.