The Changing Pace of Engineering Materials


Engineering materials continue to develop apace. While established materials (polymers, composites, ceramics, glasses, alloy, and metals) are steadily improved, studied, and adapted to new applications, recent developments in technology itself, as well as improved understanding of natural processes, are causing disruptive developments in engineering materials; it is certainly an exciting time to be a materials engineer.

Developments in nanotechnology have meant that we are now no longer restricted to observing materials statically through a microscope. Material behavior at the nanoscale can now be observed at in situ with off-the-shelf equipment and this opens up many new possibilities to understand macroscopic behavior. Materials can also be manipulated at the nanoscale, and this forms the core of the emerging discipline of nanomechanical engineering. Furthermore, as nanotechnology itself becomes ever more important in our daily lives it is important to understand processes such as friction, wear, heat transfer, deformation, etc., at the nanoscale.

The tendency toward nanoscale has brought us closer to understanding processes and the engineering materials found in the natural world. Biomineralization processes, as found in all manner of creatures from corals to humans, are gradually being refined and imitated in the laboratory. We may not be growing roads and bridges from the soil itself just yet, but it is a tantalizing thought! Of course, a more immediate application of the biology-engineering paradigm is in healthcare, where biomaterials are critically important for joint replacement, tissue repair, and regenerative medicine in general.

The New Year also begins with a new editor for Advanced Engineering Materials. As a materials engineer at heart I was very pleased indeed to be given the opportunity by Jörn Ritterbusch, the founding editor of Advanced Engineering Materials, to take the helm. We both believe that Advanced Engineering Materials is the ideal platform to peer review and report not only the major new developments in materials engineering, but also those difficult steps that take novel materials and processes from the from cover of our sister journals, Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, and Small, onto the production line. So whether you're a materials engineer, process metallurgist, polymer chemist, ceramicist, glass technologist, or you're spearheading an entirely new field, Advanced Engineering Materials is your forum for scientific advances across the entire engineering materials spectrum.

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Dr. Tim Adams

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