Doc Brown's Chemistry Revision Notes - Smart Materials and Materials Science

What are smart materials? Why are they so useful? Applications - what are they used for?


ALPHABETICAL LIST of materials, effects etc. mentioned on these pages: Smart Materials Science INDEX * CARBON FIBRES * CHROMOGENIC MATERIALS * ELECTROCHROMIC MATERIALS * GORETEX * HALOCHROMIC MATERIALS  * HIGH PERFORMANCE POLYMERS * KEVLAR * LYCRA * MAGNETIC SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS * MAGNETOSTRICTIVE MATERIALS * NITINOL * pH SENSITIVE POLYMERS * PHOTOCHROMIC MATERIALS * PHOTOMECHANICAL MATERIALS * PIEZO ELECTRIC EFFECT-MATERIALS * PTFE * SELF-HEALING MATERIALS * SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS * SHAPE MEMORY POLYMERS * SPANDEX * TEFLON * TEMPERATURE-RESPONSIVE POLYMERS * THERMOCHROMIC MATERIALS * THINSULATE *


INTRODUCTION TO SMART MATERIALS

When something changes about a smart material, it changes too!

  • Smart materials are materials that have a property that can be significantly changed in a controlled way by external stimuli.

    • The external stimulus causing the change in the materials properties maybe stress e.g. bending or compression, change in light intensity, a temperature change, coming into contact with moisture, pH of a contact solution, electric potential difference (p.d./voltage, electric charge effect), or a strong magnetic field.

  • This means smart materials change in response to changing conditions in their surroundings or by the application of other direct influences.

  • The induced change in the property of the smart material might be in its electrical behaviour e.g. its electrical resistance, its mechanical-structural properties e.g. flexibility or strength, optical e.g. change in light transmittance, magnetic behaviour etc....

    • ... any of which change the way the material functions in response to the stimulus.

  • In a 'nutshell' smart materials can change their state, and therefore their properties, in response to an external stimulus.

  • There is now a huge variety of smart materials with different special properties that make a particular material well suited to a particular specific use.

  • Other materials described on this page are not strictly speaking 'smart materials', but they have been included under the more general heading 'materials science'.

Examples of Smart Materials and 'smart effects' and other examples of 'Materials Science'

PART 1 CHROMOGENIC MATERIALS - Thermochromic, Photochromic & Electrochromic Materials

PART 2 SHAPE MEMORY ALLOYS e.g. Nitinol & Magnetic Shape Memory Alloys

PART 3 SHAPE MEMORY POLYMERS, pH and temperature sensitive-responsive polymers, Self-healing materials

Part 4 LYCRA-SPANDEX

PART 5 High performance polymers like KEVLAR

PART 6 GORETEX, THINSULATE and TEFLON-PTFE

PART 7 PIEZOELECTRIC EFFECT (PIEZOELECTRIC MATERIALS) and PHOTOMECHANICAL MATERIALS

PART 8 CARBON FIBRES

More on polymers GCSE/IGCSE notes poly(ethene), poly(propene), polystyrene, PVC

and GCSE/IGCSE Notes on Nylon, Terylene and A Level Notes on poly(propene)

NANOMATERIALS including carbon nanotubes, carbon fibres and silver nanoparticles are on a separate page

More on chemistry applications: Uses of 220+ chemical elements, compounds, mixtures & Formulation chemistry

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ALPHABETICAL SITE INDEX for chemistry     

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