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Pure Appl. Chem., 2009, Vol. 81, No. 9, pp. 1707-1717

Published online 2009-07-28


Toward defining materials chemistry (IUPAC Technical Report)

Peter Day1, Leonard V. Interrante2* and Anthony R. West3

1 Chemistry Department, University College London, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AJ, UK
2 Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA
3 Department of Engineering Materials, University of Sheffield, Sir Robert Hadfield Bldg., Mappin Street, Sheffield S1 3JD, UK

Abstract: This report describes the results of a Project whose goals were to "assemble, collate and disseminate information about the scope of the newly-emerging discipline of materials chemistry, leading to an authoritative definition of the subject within the family of chemical sciences" and further, as a corollary, "to recommend to IUPAC how this new discipline might best be represented within the IUPAC structure". The history and current status of the research and teaching, only recently labeled as "materials chemistry", is described. This field has become one of the major growth sectors in pure and applied chemistry and now accounts for a significant fraction of all publications in the chemical sciences, based on measures such as journal citations and submitted papers and journals that are devoted entirely or in part to this subject. Nonetheless, there is still considerable confusion about what does, and does not, fall within the scope of "materials chemistry", and there is no consensus regarding a definition for the subject. After examining existing definitions for "chemistry" and "materials science" and considering prior attempts to define the subject, the following working definition for "materials chemistry" was suggested: "Materials chemistry comprises the application of chemistry to the design, synthesis, characterization, processing, understanding and utilisation of materials, particularly those with useful, or potentially useful, physical properties." In conclusion, the report suggests that IUPAC consider elevating this field from its current Subdivision status to that of "a cross-divisional Committee that would work with all the current IUPAC Divisions to develop and co-sponsor new projects, in the area of chemical education, nomenclature, terminology, health and safety, etc., that will increase the recognition of the current and future importance of this field to the international chemistry community".