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Published on Apr 23, 2011
The development of improved metallic materials is a vital activity at the leading edge of science and technology. Metals offer unrivalled combinations of properties and reliability at a cost which is affordable. They are versatile because subtle changes in their microstructure can cause dramatic variations in their properties. For example, it is possible to buy commercial steel with a strength as low as 50 MPa or as high as 5500 MPa. They can be made with a microstructure which is finer than that of carbon nanotubes. An understanding of the development of microstructure in metals, rooted in thermodynamics, crystallography and kinetic phenomena is essential for the materials scientist. The majority of the 1.4 billion tonnes of metals produced annually are the result of developments within the last ten years