Materials science: an intermediate text

Materials science: an intermediate text 

William Hosford

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press | 2007 | 252pp | ?45 (HB) | ISBN 9780521867054 

Reviewed by Mark Weller

Making an intermediate-level text book on materials science easily digestible is not the easiest goal to accomplish, particularly given the potential to get bogged down in mathematics and the need to explain complex three dimensional structures and concepts. This book takes a new approach, breaking the subject down into short sections each containing simple, logical explanations, lots of diagrams and numerous example systems. A few chapters have embedded exercises with solutions and all have a wealth of problems for the reader to tackle. 

As the author says in his preface, the coverage and order of chapters is somewhat arbitrary leading to a rather eclectic collection of snippets. Generally each provides a systematic and concise explanation of the chapter topic, and there are 20 packed into this book. In a few cases it is hard to see what the assumed knowledge is and the reader could rapidly feel lost - though a good bibliography is generally available for each chapter. Other sections, for example the discussions of Madelung constants and ionic radii, seemed a little superficial for this level of text; ionic radii are assumed to have defined values with no discussion of different systems and their experimental origins. 

The end of chapter problems seemed a little variable - some seemingly very challenging for a newcomer, others more straightforward. Brief solutions for these would have been usefully included in the text. The points-of-interest included at the end of each chapter provided entertaining, quirky breaks from the hard science. 

Overall I found this text very enjoyable and useful by making it fast to locate key information and get an insight into a particular topic in materials science. The book is written and produced in a highly accessible style, though the topic distribution might limit its use except as a supplementary text.