Properties

Specification Point 9.39C:
  • Explain why the properties of a material make it suitable for a given use and use data to select materials appropriate for specific uses

Glass Ceramics

  • Transparent and strong, they insulate against heat and allow light to pass through,  making glass the ideal material for making windows.
  • Glass ceramics are also more durable than other materials hence they better suited for use in windows than plastic.

Clay Ceramics

  • Hardened material that resists compressive forces.
  • Allows bricks to be used to build walls which withstand the weight and pressure of the material bearing downwards on itself.

Polymers

  • Poor conductors of heat and electricity, hence they are good thermal and electrical insulators.
  • These properties are extremely useful for insulating electrical wiring as they prevent electric shocks and overheating.

Electrical Wire Insulated

The polymer polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is commonly used to insulate electrical wiring

Composites

  • Properties depend on the reinforcement and matrix used.
  • So composites can be tailor engineered to meet specific needs.
  • Carbon fibres for example are extremely strong and low weight, hence they are used in aviation, aeronautics and for making professional racing bicycles.
  • Steel reinforced concrete has immense tensile and compressive strength allowing it to be used as columns and supporting structures in construction.

Steel Reinforced Concrete

Diagram showing a concrete beam which is reinforced with steel, providing much more tensile strength

Metals

  • Metals are used extensively in electrical cabling and in electronics due to their ability to conduct electricity.
  • Copper is the most frequently used as it is a good conductor and is very malleable and easy to thread into cables.
  • Polymers, composites and ceramics are unsuited for this purpose as they are poor conductors.
  • Aluminium is a very strong metal but is also very light.
  • This makes it ideal for use in the construction of airplanes as it has a high strength-to-weight ratio.

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.