Over the last 10,000 years, materials science has been one of the most important and fundamental fields of human study. Every improvement in the technological capabilities of the human race has been enabled, and driven by, advances in materials. Gold, bronze, iron, glass, ceramics, and paper are all examples of materials that have driven progress forward and each has allowed the societies that developed them to advance in quantum leaps. For example, glass and ceramics allowed for the more efficient preparation, cooking, and storage of food. The discovery of paper allowed literacy to explode in the societies that used it. Metals such as gold, bronze, and iron gave rise to jewelry, weapons, tools, and coins. Coins enabled commerce to develop, and for societies to move beyond a simple barter economy—leading to the specialization of human labor.

Today, the correlation between advances in materials science and engineering and the technological progress of the human race is as important as ever. Advances in silicon processing have allowed computers to become ubiquitous, changing our lives. Ultra-clean glasses gave rise to optical fiber systems beaming petabytes of data around the world and liquid crystals are one of the key technologies that allow the smartphone and mobile tablet to function.

Going forward, society faces many daunting challenges: generating enough clean, non-polluting energy; biomaterials to augment or replace those that nature has given us; and ways to provide enough clean water for the world’s population. BU Materials Science & Engineering is at the forefront of creating breakthroughs in our understanding and use of novel materials to solve society’s most pressing technological challenges.

Every day, BU MSE researchers move the boundaries of human knowledge with breakthroughs that would have been unimaginable only a few short years ago. Progress is accelerating as we learn how to control and understand materials on length scales that range from the sub-atomic to distances of around the world.

I encourage you to look into what we’re doing at BU MSE; it is a fantastically interesting place to be. We invite you to join us, either in person or by following us on this website.

Dave Bishop
Head, BU MSE