Technological progress and discovery and mastery of increasingly sophisticated structural materials have been inexorably tied together since the dawn of history. In the present era — the so-called Space Age —-, the prevailing trend is to design and create new materials, or improved existing ones, by meticulously altering and controlling structural features that span across all types of length scales: the ultimate aim is to achieve macroscopic proper- ties (yield strength, ductility, toughness, fatigue limit . . . ) tailored to given practical applications. Research efforts in this aspect range in complexity from the creation of structures at the scale of single atoms and molecules — the realm of nanotechnology —, to the more mundane, to the average civil and mechanical engineers, development of structural materials by changing the composition, distribution, size and topology of their constituents at the microscopic/mesoscopic level (composite materials and porous metals, for instance).
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