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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Is there a Tungsten alloy more dense than gold?

This thought came from researching a previous question. In the spirit of our get-rich-quick scheming I looked up element densities and prices near gold. Element (g/cm^3) (dollars/kg) Uranium ...
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In mechanics, is shock really better expressed as jerk instead of acceleration?

Some expensive electronics or mechanical devices are designed to be shock-resistant. However, the manufacturers often market the level of shock-resistance in units of g-force (I know g-force is really ...
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14k 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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Why will clay, when heated to high temperatures, harden and become waterproof?

I have a question Why will clay, when heated to high temperatures, harden and become waterproof?
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Transparency of materials

Is transparency of material has something to do with inter- or intra-molecular bonding? E.g. both graphite and diamond are carbon, but graphite is opaque and diamond transparent.
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960 views

How does water carve rock?

How does water carve rock? And more generally, how does a soft material carve a hard material? Obviously it happens, but is it a continual process (every drop of soft water carries away a minute ...
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133 views

Invariant polynomials of the Landau theory of phase transitions (crystal symmetry?)

I'm convinced I'm missing something so obvious but here goes Typically, one can define something like a "general" expansion of an order parameter, ${\boldsymbol \Gamma}$, up to 6th order as follows ...
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365 views

Force curve associated with squeezing a worm-like chain (WLC) between two parallel plates

Let's say I have a polymer, of contour length $L_p$ and persistence length $P$, positioned between two parallel plates separated by a distance $z$. I slowly squeeze the plates together until only ...
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Is there any anti-gravity material?

I want to know if there is any anti-gravity material. I am thinking of making flying vehicles which are made up of anti-gravity material so that they will not experience any gravity on them and can ...
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281 views

Hollow gold bar

A scammer got a hollow gold bar and fills it with a combination of lead and air, with the same average density as gold. What's the simplest way of discovering the fraud? I know that x-rays will see ...
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Graphene +1 extra carbon bond

I'm not a physicist just a curious mind, so please go easy! I was just watching a BBC Horizon Documentary that featured a piece on the recently discovered material Graphene. One of the facts ...
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665 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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501 views

Why can we skate on ice? [duplicate]

I have known the reason why skate can slide over ice is that water's melting curve in terms of pressure and temperature has a negative slope. If the pressure due to our mass increases sufficiently ...
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Why does a spring lose its energy when compressed for a long time?

Why does a spring lose a part of its energy when compressed for a long period of time? Is it because the material gets bent?
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936 views

If sound wave is going to hit any metals can it make that metal electrons into exited state?

What will happen when sound wave hits the metals with very high frequency can it make the electrons to exited state. If it happens then what will be the state of that metal
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129 views

Why does glue stretch straighter than string?

So I have some bottles of lemonade and I peeled the labels off both of them, revealing the glue underneath. When these bottles were next to each other the glue stuck. I pulled them apart and it forms ...
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1answer
164 views

Material implementations of the holographic principle

I'm afraid this question is a little too open-ended, but bear with me while I find a better formulation. carbon allotropes (like fullerenes and graphene) are regular patterned. Conduction bands of ...
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1answer
328 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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149 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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1answer
2k views

What is the penetration length of static electric field into conducting metals?

How large is the penetration length for static electric field into good conductors? I have two versions: (1) few atomic spacings $$a\sim n_{e}^{-1/3},$$ and (2) Debye length computed by Fermi ...
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630 views

Why do chocolate bars usually break at the cleavages?

Why do chocolate bars usually break at the cleavages? The chocolate bar is less thick at cleavages. How can we relate thickness and fracture point of chocolate bar?
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98 views

Why do headphones tangle themselves whereas shoe laces untie themselves?

Why do headphones tangle themselves whereas shoe laces untangle or untie themselves? Why aren't we using the phenomenon to create headphones that tangle less and shoe laces that untie less?
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527 views

Semiconductor problem: how much Boron is required to establish a certain amount of charge carrier density

The problem description is as follows: Boron is used to dope 1 kg of germanium (Ge). How much boron (B) is required to establish a charge carrier density of 3.091 x 10^17 / cm^3. One mole of ...
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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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2answers
733 views

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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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

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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537 views

Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not?

Diamond and graphite are both made of the same atom, carbon. Diamond has a tetrahedron structure while graphite has a flat hexagonal structure. Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not (at ...
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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.
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1answer
164 views

Why does aluminium-on-glass mirror work without distortion?

I have read an article about glass (zerodur) with low thermal expansion coefficient. It is mentioned that large casts of such glass are covered with reflective layer of Aluminium and used as mirrors ...
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2answers
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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
260 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
173 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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3answers
890 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
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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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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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43 views

Optical Retroreflectors: How Are the Faces So Accurately Righted?

This question is about Optical Retroreflectors (corner cubes) and how the extreme precision in their manufacturing is achieved. I suspect there is interesting basic physics involved, which is why the ...
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1answer
354 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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242 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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159 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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1answer
274 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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320 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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555 views

Can vinyl LPs store audio above 20kHz and can it be played back? [closed]

If, in the future, humans genetically engineered themselves to be able to hear frequencies significantly above 20kHz (say, up to 100kHz), would they find vinyl LPs a viable method of storing and ...
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2answers
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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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2answers
342 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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4answers
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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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3answers
14k 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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325 views

How to block neutrons

What is a good way to block neutrons and what is the mechanism that allows this? It's my understanding that polyethylene is somewhat effective. Why?
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Space Elevator on Mars with Today's Technology Possible?

I know it's not possible with Earth today, but With today's level of material science technology, would it be possible to make cable strong and light enough to make a space elevator system connecting ...
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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 ...