Site Navigation

PHYS7031 - Material Physics and Design

Title:Material Physics and Design
Long Title:Material Physics and Design
Module Code:PHYS7031
Duration:1 Semester
Credits: 5
NFQ Level:Intermediate
Field of Study: Physics
Valid From: Semester 1 - 2020/21 ( September 2020 )
Module Delivered in 2 programme(s)
Module Coordinator: Donagh OMahony
Module Author: Stephen Hegarty
Module Description: Describes the properties of a range of materials and explains their behaviour based on the underlying principles of physics.
Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to:
LO1 Interpret basic empirical data regarding material properties and consequently predict material behaviour.
LO2 Describe and evaluate material strengthening/hardening and destructive/non-destructive testing methods for particular materials.
LO3 Describe materials, process attributes and design requirements for particular applications.
LO4 Determine the sustainability of processes used to manufacture and reuse materials.
Pre-requisite learning
Module Recommendations
This is prior learning (or a practical skill) that is strongly recommended before enrolment in this module. You may enrol in this module if you have not acquired the recommended learning but you will have considerable difficulty in passing (i.e. achieving the learning outcomes of) the module. While the prior learning is expressed as named CIT module(s) it also allows for learning (in another module or modules) which is equivalent to the learning specified in the named module(s).
Incompatible Modules
These are modules which have learning outcomes that are too similar to the learning outcomes of this module. You may not earn additional credit for the same learning and therefore you may not enrol in this module if you have successfully completed any modules in the incompatible list.
No incompatible modules listed
Co-requisite Modules
No Co-requisite modules listed

This is prior learning (or a practical skill) that is mandatory before enrolment in this module is allowed. You may not enrol on this module if you have not acquired the learning specified in this section.

No requirements listed

Module Content & Assessment

Indicative Content
Bonding related properties.
Properties influenced by chemical bonding and crystal structure. Electrical (conductors, semiconductors and insulators), thermal expansion, thermal conductivity, optical, mechanical (strength, ductility, elasticity, hardness and wear), melting points. Definitions, units, typical values and empirical evaluations.
Strength of solids and material testing techniques.
Strength and surface energy. Cracks and stress concentrations. Griffiths crack theory. Toughness in non-metals, the weak interface. Dislocations and ductility. Fatigue and creep. Point defects. Hardening techniques. Diffusion in solids. Survey of material testing techniques: Radiography, Ultrasonic, Eddy currents, hardness (Brinell, Rockwell, Vickers), impact testing, adhesion testing, tensile test.
Metals and alloys
Lattice types, polymorphism. Alloys: binary alloys of the common metals; Solid solution strengthening, Interstitial vs substitutional. Dispersion strengthening, phase rule; phase diagrams. Interpretation of microstructures for irons and steels, brasses and bronzes and simple alloys of aluminium, lead/tin. Methods employed to increase hardness. Processing and fabrication routes for metals; casting, forming and joining. Classification of steels.
Polymers, Ceramics & Composites.
Polymers: Molecular structure, microstructure; crystalline and amorphous polymers. The glass transition temperature. Mechanical behaviour; yielding and fracture. Polymerisation techniques and polymer processing. Chemical properties; degradation, permeability, solubility. Electrical and optical properties. Action of additives; light stabilisers, flame-retardants. Ceramics: Classification, traditional ceramics, glasses, engineering ceramics. Structures of ceramics. Processing and fabrication routes for ceramics and glasses. Structural Ceramics: Alumina, PSZ, Silicon Carbide, Silicon Nitride, Sialons. Functional Ceramics: electroceramics, bioceramics, ceramic magnets. Composite Properties: toughening, fracture, elastic behaviour, Dispersion strengthened, particle reinforced and fibre reinforced composites. Commercial composites; Metal Matrix composites, Polymer Matrix Composites, Ceramic Matrix composites.
Sustainable Materials and Processes for Manufacturing and Reuse.
The role of materials in mechanical design from the stone age to the synthetic age; economic advantage; materials as liberators; environmental degradation and destruction. The role of materials in today's environment: direct; indirect. Costs: manufacturing; social; other. Use material selection charts to identify the material class appropriate for a particular application. Trends in consumption and manufacturing. Sintering. Coating. Surface modification: ion implantation, vacuum and high pressure plasma modification. Green nanotechnologies for the manufacture and reuse of materials.
Assessment Breakdown%
Course Work40.00%
End of Module Formal Examination60.00%
Course Work
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Practical/Skills Evaluation Laboratory 1,2,3 20.0 Every Second Week
Short Answer Questions SAQ 1,2,3,4 20.0 Week 7
End of Module Formal Examination
Assessment Type Assessment Description Outcome addressed % of total Assessment Date
Formal Exam End-of-Semester Final Examination 1,2,3,4 60.0 End-of-Semester
Reassessment Requirement
Repeat examination
Reassessment of this module will consist of a repeat examination. It is possible that there will also be a requirement to be reassessed in a coursework element.

The institute reserves the right to alter the nature and timings of assessment


Module Workload

Workload: Full Time
Workload Type Workload Description Hours Frequency Average Weekly Learner Workload
Lecture No Description 2.0 Every Week 2.00
Lab Materials Laboratory 2.0 Every Second Week 1.00
Independent & Directed Learning (Non-contact) No Description 3.0 Every Week 3.00
Lecturer-Supervised Learning (Contact) No Description 1.0 Every Week 1.00
Total Hours 8.00
Total Weekly Learner Workload 7.00
Total Weekly Contact Hours 4.00
This module has no Part Time workload.

Module Resources

Recommended Book Resources
  • William D. Callister Jr., David G. Rethwisch 2014, Materials Science and Engineering : An Introduction, 9 Ed. [ISBN: 9781118319222]
  • Michael Ashby 2010, Materials Selection in Mechanical Design, 4 Ed., Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann [ISBN: 9780080952239]
  • Michael F. Ashby 2013, Materials and the Environment, 2 Ed., 15, Elsevier [ISBN: 9780123859716]
This module does not have any article/paper resources
Other Resources
  • website (E-book): Julian M Allwood & Jonathan M Cullen 2012, Sustainable Materials: With Both Eyes Open , UIT Cambridge Ltd, Cambridge

Module Delivered in

Programme Code Programme Semester Delivery
CR_SESST_8 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Environmental Science and Sustainable Technology 5 Mandatory
CR_SPHYS_7 Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics and Instrumentation 5 Mandatory

Cork Institute of Technology
Rossa Avenue, Bishopstown, Cork

Tel: 021-4326100     Fax: 021-4545343
Email: help@cit.edu.ie