About the Materials Zone

Chemistry is the part of science which looks at atoms and molecules. Atoms are the building blocks of materials, and by joining different atoms together we get every kind of material.

Reusable plastic water bottles. Image Source: Wikimedia.

Materials are all around us, each made up of different combinations of atoms. Plastics are made from lot and lots of carbon and hydrogen atoms chained together, while each grain of sand is made up of millions and millions and millions of atoms of silicon and oxygen.

Some materials, like silicon, we use all the time without thinking about it. A tiny silicon chip is at the heart of the computer you’re on now. Silicon is mixed with other elements like carbon and hydrogen to make non stick materials used in baking and waterproofing.

Materials are the substances from which things are made. So, materials are pretty important. In fact, materials have been so important to humans in the past that we have named periods of history after them: like the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Stone Age.

What do you think historians will call our period of history in the future?

In this zone we’ll meet five people working in different parts of chemistry. One of them is trying to solve problems using chemistry, while another uses plants to create materials which are friendly to the environment. There is one chemist who makes crystals, one who makes ingredients which are used to colour ink, and another who makes special molecules which might help create new kinds of computers in the future.