The study of how the properties of matter arise from its structure at all scales and of how processing can be used to modify those properties (often in pursuit of a specific application).

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Consequences of destroying a space elevator

Suppose there is a fully functional space elevator built on Earth. The base is attached to coordinates $ (\lambda, \varphi) = (0,0) $ e.g., on the equator on the zero-meridian. What would happen ...
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768 views

Origin of Elasticity

Why is it that not all bodies possess Elastic behavior? What is the origin of elasticity or plasticity? I mean, it's a physical property. So, how does it relate to atoms or molecules in different ...
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2k views

What common materials absorb most infrared light?

I'm competing in a simple robotics competition where most of the participants use reflected infrared light to detect their opponent. I'd like to make my own robot as difficult to see as possible. What ...
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688 views

What properties would the ideal material for spacecraft construction possess?

Assuming we develop the capability to send a robot to study Gliese 518, or any of the Earth-like planets discovered in the neighbourhood; the spacecraft would need to travel through the Solar System ...
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1answer
123 views

What would happen to a submarine coated in water repellent

I saw the article about laser-etched hydrophobic metal, and it got me thinking, how would a submarine function differently if coated as such? Would it move faster, sink completely, be unable to move ...
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1answer
78 views

Superhydrophobic coating and water friction

If you were to apply super-hydrophobic coating to the hull of ships or even submarines, would you get more or less water friction? If the coating completely repels the water you could argue there ...
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379 views

What makes materials hard and strong?

This is something I have wondered for a long time. Why are some materials like steel, diamond, and even light materials like graphene stronger than others? Is it due to the strength of the ...
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1answer
179 views

Why is it easier to glide on sharp ice skates than on dull skates?

There have been previous questions (e.g. here and here) on Physics.SE about the mechanism that makes ice skating possible. Reviewing these, as well external references, it seems pretty clear that the ...
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2k views

Transparency of solids using bandgaps and relation to conduction and valence bands

I think I understand how a solid can appear transparent as long as the energy of the photons travelling through it are not absorbed in the material's bandgap. But how does this band gap relate to ...
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2k views

Physical meaning of elastic constants of a monoclinic crystal

For the elasticity of a material, Hook's law can be written in tensorial form as: $$\sigma = \mathsf{C}\, \varepsilon$$ where $\sigma$ is the Cauchy stress tensor, $\varepsilon$ is the infinitesimal ...
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56 views

Why is a hexagon such a stable shape for materials?

A hexagonal lattice is famously the shape of graphene, the source of the 2010 Nobel prize. The shape also shows up in beehives and in the basalt columns of Giant's Causeway in County Antrim. ...
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251 views

Why Negative refractive index is negative

$n=\sqrt{\epsilon \mu }$ Negative refractive index happens when permittivity ($\epsilon $) and permeability ($\mu $)of a material is negative. My question is, if permittivity and permeabilitity of a ...
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139 views

Order of magnetic phase transitions

Is there any phase transition occur in paramagnetism to diamagnetism transitions state. What should be the order and how will I calculate the order?
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108 views

Tensorial version of Hooke's law

It is well known that $${\boldsymbol F} = k {\boldsymbol x}$$ for isotropic media. Also, according to Wikipedia $$F_k = k_{jk} x_j$$ for some elastic tensor $k_{jk}$. I'm a bit confused as to how ...
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169 views

Force problem related to adhesive and bonding

I have two PCBs (printed circuit board), and they are glued by adhesives, as show in the pictures. And the location of the adhesives are indicated on the picture (please notice that NO adhesive is ...
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0answers
202 views

Why does the overhand knot jam but the figure-8 knot doesn't?

After tensioning a rope with an overhand knot in it, it is often very hard if not impossible to untie it; a figure-8 knot, on the other hand, still releases easily. Why is that so? Most "knot and ...
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2answers
304 views

Why magnetic monopole found in spin ice don't modify the Maxwell's Equations?

Magnetic monopole predicted by Dirac nearly a century ago was found in spin ice as quasi-particle(2). My question is Why magnetic monopole found in spin ice don't modify the Maxwell's Equations? (I ...
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3answers
3k views

Which metals can cause magnetic interference (passively)?

I am developing an application that uses the magnetometer inside smart-phones to detect orientation w.r.t. the Earth's magnetic field. I have noticed that when the phone is held close to a metal ...
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2k views

Optimal technique to tear perforated paper along the perforation [closed]

My daughter's coloring book has perforated pages, so you can easily rip out the pages for easier coloring action. Great. Trouble is, the perforation isn't enough, and it's almost impossible to rip ...
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1answer
96 views

Theoretical limits to specific strength with hierarchical structures

Specific strength (measured in units of pressure/density or speed$^2$ which in MKS there is a proposal for labelling it as the Yuri (meter/second)$^2$) is defined as tensile strength divided by ...
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4answers
4k views

Graphene space elevator possible?

I just read this story on MIT working on industrial scale, km^2 sheet production of graphene. A quick check of Wikipedia on graphene and Wikipedia on space elevator tells me Measurements have ...
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2answers
2k views

what is difference between homogeneous vs isotropic material?

When we say a material is isotropic? When properties such as density, Young's modulus etc. are same in all directions. If these properties are direction dependent, then we can say that the material is ...
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1answer
5k views

How to know what materials are good conductors of electricity?

I'm not asking a question like "Is the wood conductive?". No. I'm asking what properties do they have to have to be good conductors. Theoretically I mean. Thanks.
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403 views

How to calculate the highest theoretical artificial hill?

The biggest peak in the world is Mount Everest. Imagine someone starting to make an artificial hill (like pyramide) from soil (earth). So, when starting with an 200x200 Km base area, with 45degree ...
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592 views

BCS theory, Richardson model and Superconductivity

I'm studying Richardson Model in second quantization. There are many initial points that I don't understand: We supposed that an attractive force between 2 electrons exists, due to electron-phonon ...
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2answers
714 views

Mnemonics to remember various properties of materials

I'm trying to figure out how to remember that hardness: how resistant it is to deformation toughness: how resistant it is to brittle failures stress: force on a surface area strength: ability to ...
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1answer
121 views

Thermal conductivity affected by electrical current

Does anyone know of any materials whereby the thermal conductivity can be changed by passing an electrical current through the material?
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139 views

limits of diamond anvils for high pressure research

in this wikipedia article regarding diamond anvils, it mentions that the pressure peaks roughly at 300 GPa. My question is why is this so? is the diamond crystal structure collapsing if higher ...
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37 views

Why does the refractive index not mirror the Lorentzian peak shape of the absorption index?

In the characterization of materials, there are many methods used: One of them is infrared spectroscopy. In a lab we saw the indices of refraction and absorption of a certain (semiconductor) solid ...
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74 views

Could a long carbon nanotube be broken by hand?

Assuming we could get a single nanotube a metre long, would it be possible to break it by hand or would it slice through just about everything including flesh and bone? Could we even grip it, or would ...
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1answer
286 views

If atoms have specific energy levels, why do opaque solids absorb all visible light, not just some? [duplicate]

Here's my question: if atoms have well defined energy levels and those differences correspond to the frequencies of light that can be absorbed, how is it that opaque objects absorb all or most visible ...
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2answers
304 views

Do amorphous metals undergo conchoidal fracture?

Amorphous metals are often referred to as metallic glasses due to their quenched atomic disorder. Do they fracture in the same fashion as silicate glasses? If not, what failure mode(s) do they have?
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2answers
1k views

Stress tensor in a cube with shear forces

I want to calculate stress matrix in a cube with two faces parallel to x axis and perpendicular to z axis (sorry I don't know how can I put a picture in this post). There are two force uniform ...
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2answers
44 views

First-principles derivation of cutting force

I know that the amount of force required to separate a material from itself is linked to the surface energy of that material. However, looking at just the surface energy laughably underestimates the ...
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1answer
350 views

Why is powdered sugar less dense than granulated sugar?

The density of powdered sugar is about 20% lower than that of granulated sugar. There is small composition difference between the two - about 3% cornstarch and 0.5% water in powdered sugar, but that's ...
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45 views

What keeps objects made of the same plastic apart?

I have two objects here which are made of the same plastic. When I hold them together, they remain separate objects: I can pull them apart with no resistance. How does each atom/molecule “know” which ...
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1answer
155 views

What is the theoretical upper limit on the rigidity of a material?

Take a perfectly rigid metal rod of length $2\ell$ and some uniform linear density. Place one end (‘south’) at $(0,-\ell)$ and the other (‘north’) at $(0, \ell)$. Over some reasonably short time ...
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314 views

Why are there direct bandgaps?

This Question has been bugging me for sometime. Some semiconductors have direct bandgaps and indirect bandgaps. So what causes a direct bandgap to occur? The physics behind ,why there are direct ...
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3answers
209 views

What is the difference between material fatigue test with 1 sec cycle and 1 hour cycle?

Assume I have two pieces of metal. I want to test the material fatigue (e.g. how many cycles can the material stand before it will break). Onto one of them I apply a tension force every second. Onto ...
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1answer
225 views

(Botanical) branch bending under gravity

I'm a PhD student in maths, and attended my last physics class some 15 years ago, so you can imagine my competences in the field. My supervisor (also not a mechanist) cant tell me how to proceed ...
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2answers
196 views

Can a minimum ultimate tensile strength (UTS) for an asteroid be established based on its diameter and rotation?

I found it fascinating that many asteroids rotate with a period of just seconds. For this fast of a rotation on this size of object, I thought that would actually cause significant acceleration on the ...
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1answer
70 views

How can one reasonably theoretically model polycrystalline materials?

Many techniques are taught in advanced solid state courses but they are almost all derived for perfectly crystalline materials. For example, band structure really only appears theoretically when you ...
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74 views

Wall stress of a hexagonal pressure vessel

Problem: I want to calculate the stress in the walls of a hexagonal pressure vessel but I can't manage to get coherent results. For long vessels, cylinders are supposed to have the lowest hoop stress ...
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0answers
1k views

Inflating a balloon (expansion resistance)

I am doing a quick calculation on how to calculate the pressure needed to inflate a perfectly spherical balloon to a certain volume, however I have difficulties with the fact that the balloon (rubber) ...
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7answers
238 views

Is it possible to cut harder material with a less hard material?

Is it possible to cut harder material with a less hard material - for example cut a steel rod with iron blade ?
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2answers
5k views

Vibration as a means of passing through solid objects?

First of all, I think this is a weird question but I still want to know whether it's possible. There is a character in a cartoon network series who is really really fast. Sometimes he lets his own ...
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3answers
8k views

Why is copper diamagnetic?

Cu has an unpaired electron in 4s, but it is diamagnetic. I thought that it has to be paramagnetic. What am I missing?
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2answers
116 views

What makes a material a good lens for CO2 lasers?

I read on Wikipedia that zinc selenide and germanium make good lenses for $\mathrm{CO}_2$ lasers. My question is, Why?
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1answer
709 views

Why does glass break at the line where you score it?

Why does it take such a small incision for the glass to break at that spot? Why is the structural strength of the material influenced by such a small imperfection?
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221 views

Effects of surface roughness on specularity

Say you have a piece of glass, which looks specular if propery cut/polished. But if you sand the surface using say sand paper, it will look hazy and glossy. I'm wondering how much surface roughness ...