The study of materials is a major field of research that supports and drives innovation in technology. Using modern scientific techniques, materials scientists and engineers explore and manipulate materials, and create new ones with remarkable strength and extraordinary optical and electrical properties. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Hall looks at a wide range of materials, from steel, wood, and rubber, to gold, silicon, and graphene, describing how materials are used, how their properties arise from their internal structure, and how useful and novel things are made from them. He concludes by looking at how the global scale of materials consumption now threatens the goal of sustainability. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.