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Published monthly by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) (a member-based professional society), JOM is a technical journal devoted to exploring the many aspects of materials science and engineering.

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The Top One Hundred Candidates
Below are the 100 candidate material moments that on-line voters ranked to create the official list of 50 Greatest Materials Moments.

Candidate Moment
28,000 BC (estimated)
The earliest fired ceramics--in the form of animal and human figurines, slabs, and balls--(found at sites in the Pavlov Hills of Moravia) are manufactured starting about this time. Introduces materials processing.
8000 BC
The earliest form of metallurgy begins with the decorative hammering of copper by Old World Neolithic peoples. Leads to the replacement of stone tools with much more durable and versatile copper ones.
5000 BC
In and around modern Turkey, people discover that liquid copper can be extracted from malachite and azurite and that the molten metal can be cast into different shapes. Introduces extractive metallurgy--the means of unlocking the Earth's mineralogical treasures.
3500 BC
Egyptians smelt iron (perhaps as a by-product of copper refining) for the first time, using tiny amounts mostly for ornamental or ceremonial purposes. Unlocks the first processing secret of what will become the world's dominant metallurgical material.
3000 BC
Metal workers in the region of modern Syria and Turkey discover that addition of tin ore to copper ore before smelting produces bronze. Establishes the concept of metals alloying--blending two or more metals to create a substance that is greater than the sum of its parts.
2200 BC
The peoples of northwestern Iran invent glass. Introduces the second great nonmetallic engineering material (following ceramics).
1500 BC
Potters in China craft the first porcelain using kaolin. Begins a long tradition of exceptional craftsmanship and artistry with this class of ceramics.
1500 BC
Metal workers in the Near East develop the art of lost-wax casting. Establishes the ability to create and replicate intricate and complex metallurgical structures.
300 BC
Metal workers in south India develop crucible steel making. Produces "wootz" steel which becomes famous as "Damascus" sword steel hundreds of years later, inspiring artisans, blacksmiths, and metallurgists for many generations to come.
200 BC
Chinese metal workers develop iron casting. Introduces the primary approach to manufacturing iron objects for centuries in China.
100 BC
Glass blowing is developed, probably somewhere in the region of modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel--most likely by Phoenicians. Enables the quick manufacture of large, transparent, and leak-proof vessels.
Iron smiths forge and erect a seven meter high iron pillar in Delhi, India. Defies deleterious environmental effects for more than one and a half millennia, creating an artifact of long-standing materials science and archaeological intrigue.
Johannes Gutenberg devises a lead-tin-antimony alloy to cast in copper alloy molds to produce large and precise quantities of the type required by his printing press. Establishes the fundamental enabling technology for mass communication.
Johanson Funcken develops a method for separating silver from lead and copper, ores of which are often mixed in deposits. Establishes that mining and metals processing operations can recover metals as a by-product of other operations.
Vannoccio Biringuccio publishes De La Pirotechnia. Provides the first written account of proper foundry practice.
Georgius Agricola publishes De Re Metallica. Provides a systematic and well-illustrated examination of mining and metallurgy as practiced in the sixteenth century.
Galileo publishes Della Scienza Mechanica ("on mechanical knowledge"), which he writes after he has been consulted regarding shipbuilding problems. Deals scientifically with the strength of materials.
Anton van Leeuwenhoek develops optical microscopy capable of magnifications of 200 times and greater. Enables study of the natural world and its structures that are invisible to the unaided eye.
Abraham Darby I discovers that coke can effectively replace charcoal in a blast furnace for iron smelting. Lowers dramatically the cost of ironmaking (enabling large-scale production) and saves regions from deforestation.
In Britain, the first glue patent is issued (for fish glue, an exceptionally clear adhesive). Initiates a rapid succession of adhesive developments with natural and then synthetic sources.
John Smeaton invents modern concrete (hydraulic cement). Introduces the dominant construction material of the modern age.
Luigi Brugnatelli invents electroplating. Originates the widely employed industrial process for functional and decorative applications.
Sir Humphry Davy develops the process of electrolysis to separate elemental metals from salts, including potassium, calcium, strontium, barium, and magnesium. Establishes the foundation for electrometallurgy and electrochemistry.
Auguste Taveau develops a dental amalgam from silver coins and mercury. Enables repeatable and low-cost dental filling material and establishes one of the earliest examples of metallic biomaterials.
Augustin Cauchy presents his theory of stress and strain to the French Academy of Sciences. Provides the first careful definition of stress as the load per unit area of the cross section of a material.
Friedrich Wöhler isolates elemental aluminum. Unlocks the most abundant metallic element in the Earth's crust.
Wilhelm Albert develops iron wire rope as hoisting cable for mining. Presents an exponential leap of large-scale construction and industrial opportunities over the limitations of hemp rope.
Charles Goodyear invents the vulcanization of rubber. Enables enormous progress in the transportation, electricity, manufacturing, and myriad other industries.
George Audemars patents "artificial silk" created using the fibrous inner bark of a mulberry tree. Leads to the manufacture of rayon and the era of synthetic fibers, creating sweeping effects on the textiles and materials industries.
Henry Bessemer patents a bottom-blown acid process for melting low-carbon iron. Ushers in the era of cheap, large tonnage steel, thereby enabling massive progress in transportation, building construction, and general industrialization.
Emile and Pierre Martin develop the Siemens-Martin open-hearth furnace process. Produces large quantities of basic steel by heating a combination of steel scrap and iron ore with gas burners--helping to make steel the world's most recycled metal.
Henry Clifton Sorby uses light microscopy to reveal the microstructure of steel. Leads to the use of photomicrography with metals and the science of metallurgy.
Dmitri Mendeleev devises the Periodic Table of Elements. Introduces the ubiquitous reference tool of materials scientists and engineers.
Alfred Nobel patents dynamite. Proves of immeasurable assistance in conducting large-scale mining.
J. Willard Gibbs publishes the first part of the two-part paper "On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances." Provides a basis for understanding modern thermodynamics and physical chemistry.
William Siemens patents the arc-type electric furnace. Leads to the modern electric arc furnace, which is the principle furnace type for the modern electric production of steel.
Pierre Manhès constructs the first working converter for copper matte. Initiates the modern period of copper making.
Charles Martin Hall and Paul H é roult independently and simultaneously discover the electrolytic reduction of alumina into aluminum. Provides the processing foundation for the proliferation of aluminum for commercial applications
Adolf Martens examines the microstructure of a hard steel alloy and finds that, unlike many inferior steels that show little coherent patterning, this steel had many varieties of patterns, especially banded regions of differently oriented microcrystals. Initiates the use of microscopy to identify the crystal structures in metals and correlate these observations to the physical properties of the material.
Pierre and Marie Curie discover radioactivity. Marks the beginning of modern-era studies on spontaneous radiation and applications of radioactivity for civilian and military applications.
William Roberts-Austen develops the phase diagram for iron and carbon. Initiates work on the most significant phase diagram in metallurgy, providing the foundation for the indispensable tool for other material systems.
Johann August Brinell develops a test to estimate the hardness of metals that involves pressing a steel ball or diamond cone against the specimen. Establishes a reliable (and still commonly used) method to determine the hardness properties of virtually all materials.
Charles Vincent Potter develops the flotation process to separate metallic sulfide minerals from otherwise unusable minerals. Opens the opportunity for the large-scale recovery of metals from increasingly difficult-to-treat low-grade ores from mining operations.
Leon Guillet develops the alloying compositions of the first stainless steels. Expands the versatility of steel for use in corrosive environments.
Alfred Wilm discovers the precipitation hardening of aluminum alloys. Yields the "hard aluminum" duraluminum, the first high-strength aluminum alloy.
Leo Baekeland synthesizes the thermosetting hard plastic Bakelite. Marks the beginning of the "plastic age" and the modern plastics industry.
William D. Coolidge devises ductile tungsten wire, using a powder metallurgical approach, for use as an energy-efficient, high-lumen lighting filament. Spurs the rapid expansion of electric lamps and initiates the science of modern powder metallurgy.
Kammerlingh Omnes discovers superconductivity while studying pure metals at very low temperatures. Forms the basis for modern discoveries in low- and high-temperature superconductors and resulting high-performance applications.
Max von Laue discovers the diffraction of x-rays by crystals. Creates means to characterize crystal structures and inspires W.H. Bragg and W.L Bragg in developing the theory of diffraction by crystals, providing insight into the effects of crystal structure on material properties.
Albert Sauveur publishes Metallography and Heat Treatment of Iron and Steel. Promulgates the "processing-structure-properties" paradigm that guides the materials science and engineering field.
Niels Bohr publishes his model of atomic structure. Introduces the theory that electrons travel in discrete orbits around the atom's nucleus, with the chemical properties of the element being largely determined by the number of electrons in each of the outer orbits.
Jan Czochralski publishes the paper "Ein Neues Verfahren zur Messung des Kristallisationsgeschwindigkeit der Metalle" ("A New Method for the Measurement of the Crystallization Rate of Metals"), in which he describes a method of growing metallic monocrystals. Becomes the method of choice for growing high-performance materials, such as the silicon crystals used in the semiconductor computer chip industry.
A.A. Griffith publishes "The Phenomenon of Rupture and Flow in Solids," which casts the problem of fracture in terms of energy balance. Gives rise to the field of fracture mechanics.
Hermann Staudinger publishes work that states that polymers are long chains of short repeating molecular units linked by covalent bonds. Paves the way for the birth of the field of polymer chemistry.
John B. Tytus invents the continuous hot-strip rolling of steel. Provides the basis for the inexpensive, large-scale manufacturing of sheet and plate products.
Karl Schroter invents cemented carbides as a class of materials. Provides the basis for the workhorse materials of the tool and metal-cutting industries.
Cornelius H. Keller patents alkyl xanthates sulfide collectors. Begins a revolution in sulfide mineral flotation, turning worthless mineral deposits into bonanzas.
Werner Heisenberg develops matrix mechanics and Erwin Schrödinger invents wave mechanics and the non-relativistic Schrödinger equation for atoms. Forms the basis of quantum mechanics.
Waldo Lonsbury Semon invents plasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Becomes one of the world's most versatile and widely used construction materials.
Paul Merica patents the addition of small amounts of aluminum to Ni-Cr alloy to create the first "superalloy." Leads to the commercialization of the jet engine, along with increased efficiency for modern power turbine machinery.
Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer experimentally confirm the wave nature of the electron. Provides fundamental work necessary for much of today's solid-state electronics.
Siegfried Junghans perfects a process for the continuous casting of nonferrous metal. Provides the basis for commercial exploitation of high-volume continuous casting.
Arnold Sommerfeld applies quantum statistics to the Drude model of electrons in metals and develops the free-electron theory of metals. Supplies a simple model for the behavior of electrons in a crystal structure of a metallic solid and contributes to the foundation of solid-state theory.
Fritz Pfleumer patents magnetic tape. Establishes the technology and leads to many subsequent innovations for data storage.
Arne Olander discovers the shape-memory effect in an alloy of gold and cadmium. Leads to the development of the commercial shape-memory alloys that are employed in medical and other applications.
Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska build the first transmission electron microscope. Accesses new length scales and enables improved understanding of material structure.
Egon Orowan, Michael Polyani, and G.I. Taylor, in three independent papers, propose that the plastic deformation of ductile materials could be explained in terms of the theory of dislocations. Provides critical insight toward developing the modern science of solid mechanics.
Wallace Hume Carothers, Julian Hill, and other researchers patent the polymer nylon. Greatly reduces the demand for silk and serves as the impetus for the rapid development of polymers.
Erich Schmid and Walter Boas publish Kristallplastizitaet, which details 15 years of research on plastic deformation of metallic single crystals. Leads to a much better understanding of plastic deformation, a critical property of metals.
Norman de Bruyne develops the composite plastic Gordon-Aerolite, which consists of high-grade flax fiber bonded together with phenolic resin. Paves the way for the development of fiberglass.
André Guinier and G.D. Preston independently report the observation of diffuse streaking in age-hardened aluminum-copper alloys. Leads to the improved understanding of precipitation-hardening mechanisms.
Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann find that they can split the nucleus of a uranium atom by bombarding it with neutrons Establishes nuclear fission and leads to applications in energy and atomic weapons.
Russell Ohl, George Southworth, Jack Scaff, and Henry Theuerer discover the existence of p- and n-type regions in silicon. Provides a necessary precursor to the invention of the transistor eight years later.
Wilhelm Kroll develops an economical process for titanium extraction. Establishes the primary means of producing the high-purity titanium needed for products ranging from high-performance aircraft to corrosion-resistant reactors.
Frank Spedding develops an efficient process for obtaining high-purity uranium from uranium halides. Enables the development of the atomic bomb in the Manhattan Project.
John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley invent the transistor Becomes the building block for all modern electronics and the foundation for microchip and computer technology.
Bill Pfann invents zone refining. Enables the preparation of high-purity materials, such as the improved semiconductors critical for electronic applications.
Nick Holonyak, Jr., develops the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode (LED). Marks the beginning of the use of III-V alloys in semiconductor devices, including heterojunctions and quantum well heterostructures.
S. Donald Stookey discovers a heat-treatment process for transforming glass objects into fine-grained ceramics. Leads to the introduction of Pyroceram and CorningWare.
A team in Sweden produces the first artificial diamonds by using high heat and pressure. Gives rise to the industrial diamond industry, with applications in machining, electronics, and a variety of other areas.
Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin, and Calvin Fuller unveiled the Bell Solar Battery--the world's first device to successfully convert useful amounts of sunlight directly into electricity. Serves as the very foundation for solar energy production as well as photo-detector technology.
Peter Hirsch and coworkers provide experimental verification by transmission electron microscopy of dislocations in materials. Not only is dislocation theory verified unequivocally, but the power of transmission electron microscopy in materials research is demonstrated.
Jack Kilby integrates capacitors, resistors, diodes, and transistors into a single germanium monolithic integrated circuit or "microchip." Makes possible microprocessors and, thereby, high-speed, efficient, convenient, affordable, and ubiquitous, computing and communications systems.
Frank VerSnyder develops the directionally solidified columnar-grained turbine blade Enables performance enhancements for jet engines, saving airlines millions of dollars per year in fuel costs alone.
Pol Duwez uses rapid cooling to make a gold-silicon alloy that remains amorphous at room temperature. Represents the first true metallic glass, which has been applied in transformer cores and offers significant potential.
Richard Feynman presents "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" at a meeting of the American Physical Society Introduces the concept of nanotechnology (while not naming it as such).
Arthur Robert von Hippel publishes Molecular Science and Molecular Engineering. Creates an emerging discipline aimed at designing new materials on the basis of molecular understanding.
Stephanie Kwolek invents the high-strength, low-weight plastic Kevlar. Improves the performance of tires, boat shells, body armor, components for the aerospace industry, and more.
Cambridge Instruments introduces a commercial scanning electron microscope. Provides an improved method for the high-resolution imaging of surfaces at greater magnifications and with much greater depth of field than possible with light microscopy.
Karl J. Strnat and coworkers discover magneto-crystalline anisotropy in rare-earth cobalt intermetallic compounds. Leads to the fabrication of high-performance permanent magnets of samarium-cobalt and, later, neodymium-iron-boron for use in electronic devices and other areas.
Larry Hench and colleagues develop bioactive glass for orthopedic use. Changes the paradigm in biomaterials to include interfacial bonding of the implant with host tissues.
James Fergason, utilizing the twisted nematic field effect, makes first operating liquid crystal displays. Completely redefines many products and applications, including computer displays, medical and industrial devices, and the vast array of consumer electronics.
Bob Maurer, Peter Schultz and Donald Keck invent low-loss optical fiber. Provides the basis for the increased bandwidth that revolutionized telecommunications.
Hideki Shirakawa, Alan MacDiarmid, and Alan Heeger announce the discovery of electrically conducting organic polymers. Leads to the development of flat panel displays using organic light-emitting diodes, solar panels, and optical amplifiers.
Heinrich Rohrer and Gerd Karl Binnig invent the scanning tunneling microscope. Provides three-dimensional atomic-scale images of metal surfaces and quickly becomes widely used in research to characterize surface roughness and observe surface defects.
Robert Curl, Jr., Richard Smalley, and Harold Walter Kroto discover that some carbon arranges itself in the form of soccer-ball-shaped molecules with 60 atoms called buckminsterfullerenes or "buckyballs." Opens the possibility that carbon can assume an almost infinite number of different structures.
Paul Chu creates a superconducting yttrium-barium-copper oxide ceramic. Opens the possibility of large-scale application of superconducting materials
Don Eigler spells out "IBM" with individual xenon atoms using a scanning tunneling electron microscope Demonstrates that atoms can be manipulated one by one, the basis for "bottoms-up" production of nanostructures.
Sumio Iijima discovers nanotubes, carbon atoms arranged in tubular structures. Creates expectations of important structural and nonstructural applications as nanotubes are about 100 times stronger than steel at just a sixth of the weight while also possessing unusual heat and conductivity characteristics.
Eli Yablonovich produces "photonic crystals" by drilling holes in a crystalline material so that light of a certain wavelength cannot propagate in the material. Forms a basis for the development of "photonic transistors."



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Visual theming for JOM's Greatest Moments in Materials Science and Engineering inspired by De La Pirotechnia and De Re Metallica.
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