38 Episodes

By: Taylor Sparks and Andrew Falkowski

In this podcast we will be investigating materials science and engineering by exploring cutting edge materials technology, the history of different materials, the commercialization of new materials, and exciting advances in processing and characterization. We’ll be covering things like the unlikely discovery of superglue or teflon and we’ll also reveal the fascinating backstories about modern biomaterials like dialysis filters, we’ll update you on exciting new technologies including wearable electronics, next generation batteries, and nanomaterials. In short, we hope to help listeners understand the critical role that materials have played in society and even glimpse into what the future...

The Science of 3D Printing

Every other day we get asked about 3D printing and we tell our listeners to wait. Well, wait no longer! This is the first episode in a two part series on 3D printing. This will cover the science that makes the various methods possible as well as the crazy history of companies almost creating 3d printing only to be stopped by a lack of interest.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google...

μ: Magnetocaloric Materials

A look into the future of refrigeration and how magenetocalroic materials will make a more efficient machine. How soon will you be replacing your fridge with these and what exactly makes them tick?

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review - it helps us improve and it exposes new people to...

Spark Plasma Sintering

A look into Spark "Plasma" Sintering and why the name is a misnomer. Follow the history as it goes from Mayan jewelry making all the way to Dr. Sparks building one in Harvard. Finally, dive into its current applications and possibilities in the future.    References: ttps://   Munir ZA, Anselmi-Tamburini U, Ohyanagi M. The effect of electric field and pressure on the synthesis and consolidation of materials: A review of the spark plasma sintering method. Journal of...

μ: Cookware

Andrew and Ramsey take a look into the surprising science that helps make cooking as easy as can be. They explain the dangers that cooking with some of these chemicals can create and how to avoid it.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review - it helps us improve and it...


The development of photography is inextricably linked to the development of advanced materials and chemicals. In this episode, Andrew and Jared discuss the science that makes photography possible. The episode includes everything from the structure of film, to digital sensors, to radioactive elements in glass.

Sources and Cool Articles:

Witten NM. The Chemistry of Photography.

Link A. Fstoppers. “How Photos Were Edited in the Darkroom Days”

Shu-wei H. “Photographic Film Structure”

Rogers D. The chemistry of photography: from classical to digital technologies. Royal Society of Chemistry; 2007.


μ: The Elixir of Civilization

A review of the book "Scientific Freedom: The Elixir of Civilization" by Donald Braben. Taylor and Andrew drive into the radical ideas Braben implemented in his role as Director of Venture Research at BP. They examine the principles behind Venture Research and the potential for this approach to revolutionize scientific discovery by increasing freedom and creativity. Who knows? Maybe this approach would discover this century's Einsteins, Plancks, Rutherfords and more!

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play...

Ionic Conduction

Diffusion is when atoms move through a material in response to a concentration gradient. However, some ions can move through a material in response to an electric field and can do so very quickly! Even more remarkable, the motion of ions can be restricted to ions of a certain type such as O2-, H+, Na+, Li+ etc. What is required of a material in order for it to be an ionic conductor? What technologies do ionic conductors make possible? Why are they necessary for batteries, fuel cells, sensors, electrolyzer, and more? We answer these questions and dive into...

μ: Engineering a Better Skateboard

The intersection of people interested in both skateboarding and materials science is likely small 🤣, but who cares! Skateboards have some cutting edge polymers, ceramics, metals, & composites: wood vs carbon-fiber composite lay-ups? ✔ silicon nitride vs steel ball bearings? ✔ titanium vs magnesium light-weight metal alloy trucks? ✔ high hardness vs soft & grippy urethane wheels? ✔

In this episode, we chat with Norman Woods, a professional skateboarder who helps us figure out if all the advanced materials translate to dramatically improved performance.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to sub...

Superconductors: The Search for 0K

The team goes over the history of superconductors. Their uses in making mind bogglingly fast trains and how their discovery paralleled the bottles we use to keep our water cold. All framed around the new discovery of a room temperature super conductor that isn't exactly room pressure...


If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google...

μ: Investing in Materials Startups

Every new startup requires capital, but most venture capital groups are very cautious about investing in materials companies due to the typically long timeframe for development. In this episode we talk to a Matt Cohen, Director of Technology at Pangaea Ventures. Matt talks about why their company dares to invest primarily in materials companies. He tells us about some of the investments they make, and the impact they have. Matt and the team also discuss how you can start your own startup as well as recommending some books to get you started.

If you have questions or...

Halloween Spooktacular

Halloween is right around the corner and like many of you, we’ve been hard at work on our spooky costumes! If you’ve ever been to Comic-Con you’ve seen the incredible costumes that cosplay artists can create. Giant suits of armor and weapons crafted out of EVA foam, Mandalorian suits with Worbla or Sintra armor plates, life-like silicone and latex masks, monsters built from Papier-mâché, Styrofoam, Plastidip, and PVC. This episode is dedicated to all the incredible material science & engineering that goes into Cosplay materials.

On this episode we’re joined by artist Cara Krebs...

Fire Failure

A relevant look at why failure is an important subject to learn and the implications of negligence. Centered on the story of the fire in Butte County, California that decimated the land and was the biggest insured disaster that year. A look at what mistakes PG&E made ranging from their lack of records to testing methods that led to the deadliest fire in California's recorded history. References:

If you have questions or feedback please send...

The Science of Art

An interview with Daryl Butt, Dean of the College of Mines at the University of Utah. The topic is how materials science informs art and how art can inform science. Through examples ranging from forgeries to paint made of urine.



μ: Bio-Inspired Materials

Andrew catches you up in the issues facing this month's full episode and then sits down with Dr. Steven Naleway from the university of Utah to talk about his research in the field of bio-inspired Materials.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review - it helps us improve and it exposes...

μ: Bioprinting

Printing human organs? Replacing worn-out body parts with fresh, newly printed ones? This sounds like science fiction but in some ways, it's already here! From kidneys to bladders and even more complex organs the bizarre future of 3D-bioprinting is here! In this micro-materialism episode we introduce a new producer, Ramsey Issa, to help separate fact from fiction when it comes to the materials science of bioprinting.

Some great links to supplement today's episode:

Vulcanized Rubber

A look into the history of rubber and the vulcanization process from Charles Goodyear's insane dedication to abandoned corporate towns in the jungle. In Taylor Sparks' absence, Andrew and Jared take the helm and cohost together.


Kohjiya S. Chemistry, manufacture and applications of natural rubber. Elsevier; 2014 Feb 17.

Coran AY. Vulcanization. InScience and technology of rubber 1994 Jan 1 (pp. 339-385). Academic Press.

Fisher HL. Vulcanization of rubber vulcanization of rubber. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry. 1939 Nov;31(11):1381-9.

Grandin G. Fordlandia: the rise and fall of Henry Ford's forgotten jungle city. Macmillan; 2009...

μ: Auxetics

This episode covers a fascinating class of materials called auxetics. Experience tells us that when we pull a material in tension, it should shrink; auxetics do the opposite. By shifting, winding, or rotating, these materials get wider when stretched and thinner when compressed.

Lakes R. Foam structures with a negative Poisson's ratio. Science. 1987 Feb 27;235:1038-41. Evans KE. Auxetic polymers: a new range of materials. Endeavour. 1991 Jan 1;15(4):170-4. Saxena KK, Das R, Calius EP. Three decades of auxetics research− materials with negative Poisson's ratio: a review. Advanced Engineering Materials. 2016 Nov;18(11):1847-70. Grima JN, Evans KE. Auxetic behavior from rotating tr...

Materials Informatics

A look into the uses of machine learning and the field of materials informatics. Discussions of the positives and negatives of using machine learning on a project as well as some general tips on how to get started in the field.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review - it helps...

μ: Filtering Out The Bad

The team tries out a new format. Please bear with us while we figure it all out. This episode is on N95 masks and other filtration materials.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review - it helps us improve and it exposes new people to the show. Finally, check out our...

Diamonds Aren't Forever

A conversation about the history and future of artificial diamonds for industrial applications. Featuring an interview with Colton Fox a research engineer at US Synethic.

If you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google play, and now Youtube or wherever you find your podcasts. If you like the show and want to help us reach more people, consider leaving a review...

Perfecting Polymers Processing

A look at the basics of polymers followed by an interview with Alex Reed CEO of Fluence Analytics, a company specializing in polymer processing data.

Bonus Episode:

Manivannan, G. (1997). UV-vis spectroscopy as an analytical tool for the characterization of polymers . Materials Characterization and Optical Probe Techniques: A Critical Review. doi:10.1117/12.279857

Tieke, B. (2005). Makromolekulare Chemie. 2nd ed. Weinheim: WILEY_VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA

Kratochvil P, Tuzar Z. Notes on Differential Refractometry and Light Scattering of Polymer or Copolymer Solutions in Mixed...

Surfactants: A Slippery Soap

A look back at the history of soap from it's origin in 2500 BC to the numerous changes made to soaps in the last century. Also featuring a discussion about viruses and why soaps are so effective against them.

Verbeek, H. (1987). Historical Review. Surfactants in Consumer Products, 1–4. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-71545-7_1

Oluwatoyin, Shoge Mansurat. "Quality Soaps Using Different Oil Blends." Journal of Miicrobiology and Biotechnology Research 1.1 (2011): 29-34.

f you have questions or feedback please send us emails at Make sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, google pl...

A Look Inside Ultrasound

An investigation into ultrasound and the material properties that make it work. Featuring an interview with Dr. Jeff Bates about his work on hydrogels and his experience in consulting. Nondestructive Air-coupled Ultrasound Measurement in the Food Industries: A Study on Automatic Flaw Detection using MSSIM in Ultrasound Imaging of Steel Plate: Laser Ultrasound: Air Coupling: Defect Detection in Additively Manufactured Components: Laser Ultrasound and Laser Thermography...

Self-Healing Rubber

A look at an exciting new take on a widely used material, the science behind it, and potential future applications. Articles Discussed: 2008 Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles 2012 Chen and coworkers UC Irvine 2013 Rahman and coworkers University of Brescia and Polytechnic of Milan 2015 Das and coworkers Leibniz-Institut für Polymerforschung, Tampere University of Technology, Finland, & § Technische Universität Dresden 2016 Xu and coworkers Guangxi University and South China University of T...

The Science of Blacksmithing

Have you ever watched a blacksmith work an old railroad tie into an elaborate metal trinket and wonder "How do they do that?" or "Why are doing it that way" or "What is the purpose of that step?" In this episode, we dive into the science behind those exact questions. We talk about metal deformation, heat treatments, fracture, different steel types, and wrap up the episode interviewing Alexander Wickstrom an undergraduate in the Materials Science & Engineering Department at the University of Utah who led his "Materials Advantage Student Chapter" in their recent TMS Bladesmithing Competition with a truly...

Recycling and the Science of Separation

About half of the solid wastes produced each year end up in a landfill. A quarter gets recycled, 10% is composted, and the rest is burned. Why isn't more being recycled? Is this trend going to change? What will be the impact of China's new policy regarding impurities? This episode dives into recycling and we interview Dr. James Nagel of EDX Magnetics, a company with an innovative new tool for separating metals that could transform the recycling landscape.


The Ultimate Construction Material

A great empire demands an equally great building material. In this episode, we cover the development and implementation of concrete throughout human history. We are joined by Marie Jackson, a research associate professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, and an expert on Roman concrete. She explains how Romans were able to develop concrete and why Roman concrete is able to endure for thousands of years. Finally, we cover some new and exciting concrete technologies that are being developed.

If you want to learn even more, consider reading Marie's blog about making Roman concrete...

Seeing With Electrons

The optical microscope was discovered in the 17th century and ever since has been a staple of scientific discovery. It uncovered germs and let humanity investigate the microscopic world. However, optical microscopes face a limit to their resolution since they rely on visible light. If materials scientists were going to ever probe atoms, grains, domains, and other features smaller than a few hundred nanometers, it would be necessary to fundamentally change the way we see matter.

In this episode we talk about electron microsopes. Their history, how they work, and some of the incredible advantages and features...

Materials That Remember

Imagine stepping on your favorite glasses and bending the frame horribly out of shape. Now imagine immersing these glasses in boiling water and seeing them snap back into their original shape with no evidence of ever being deformed. Shape memory alloys are as close to real-life science fiction materials as it gets!

In this episode, we dive into what the materials are, their discovery, how they work, and lots of cool applications.

If you are interested in reading more check out these great resources and https://doi...

Yes, Chocolate is a Material

We all think of metals, ceramics, polymers, electronic materials, composites and so forth as materials. But what else? Is chocolate an engineering material? In this episode we dive into this amazing substance and describe the critical processing steps that makes it a unique including regional differences in cocoa, chocolate tempering and more. Along the way we'll cover the fundamental materials science topic of crystallization and solidification.

If you want to learn more about the science of chocolate there is a huge body of literature. Some publications you can check out are Beckett's Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use...

Gore-Tex: Structuring a Company like a Material

Can you structure a company like a material?

In this episode we cover the fascinating discovery of Gore-Tex, and the equally fascinating company that created it. First, we delve in the materials science that allows Gore-Tex to repel water, while remaining breathable. We then, discuss the unique, non-hierarchical structure of W.L. Gore and Associates that has allowed them to continuously innovate over the past 60 years.

If you want to learn even more about the topics we covered today, you can check out some of the references that we pulled from: Innovation Democracy: W.L...

Hemodialysis and the Birth of Artificial Organs

In this episode we talk about the birth of artificial organs as we describe the history of hemodialysis which is critical for treating chronic kidney disease. We introduce materials science fundamentals associated with mass transport across semi-permeable membranes such as Ficks First Law. We then tell the story of Willem Kolff and others who pioneered the invention of hemodialysis and describe the role that materials played in that process then as well as now.

To learn even more about the stuff we talked about, check out some of the references we pulled from when making this episode: ...

Solving Structures with X-Rays

In this episode we cover the history and development of crystallography, the study of the structures that make up the materials around us. The history of this field is filled with accidental discoveries, ingenious inventions, and drama between those who study it.

One of the most important discoveries to come out of this field is x-ray diffraction. This important characterization technique allowed scientists to delve deeper into crystal structures than ever before. We discuss new advances in x-ray diffraction with Ben Frandsen, an assistant professor of physics at Brigham Young University. Ben utilizes x-ray and neutron diffraction...

Turning Heat into Electricity

In this episode we talk about thermoelectrics which, as the name suggests, are materials that can convert heat into electricity or vice versa. Since their inception almost 200 years ago there have been major advances in thermoelectric efficiency and they have found their way into some amazing applications such as NASA’s deep space probes or the Mars rover Curiosity.

For the latter half of the 20th century, thermoelectric materials research was relatively stagnant with little improvement in materials. However, in the last two decades there has been a resurgence of interest in these materials and efficiencies have do...

Making Materials in a Microwave

In this episode we learn about an unexpected approach to processing materials: the common kitchen microwave. While most people only think about the microwave when it’s time to reheat some leftovers, there has been a surprising scientific interest from materials researchers in the last few decades. In fact, microwave processing can achieve pretty remarkable feats such as extremely rapid sintering and heat treatment of materials as well as providing a means for microstructural control in alloys. There have even been cases where people have used it to weld and join materials together. In this episode we explain how mi...

Materials Commercialization: Batch 21

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Chett Boxley, the co-founder of Glycosurf LLC and Batch 21. Chett is a serial entrepreneur with a PhD in chemistry from the University of Utah and a long history of bringing products out of the laboratory and into the market. For this episode he describes the unique challenge of both developing a new materials-based product and also selling it and running a young startup.

You can learn a lot more about Batch 21 and their green skin care products by visiting

For those interested in learning...

The History of Steel

Hello and welcome to the inaugural episode of the Materialism Podcast: an exploration of the past, present, and future of materials science and engineering.

This episode deals with the most ubiquitous and important engineering material of all time: steel. The story of steel is fascinating and ties into the history of the Industrial Revolution, the birth of capitalism, and so much more. It would be hard to think of another material that did more to change society.

If you enjoyed the information we covered in today’s podcast and want to learn even more because we...

Introduction to Materialism

Episode Notes

The ideal audience for this podcast would be students of materials science and engineering or anybody who is interested in learning more about the materials that make up our world. Each episode will include a brief general introduction to the topic so that any listener can understand the subject matter. We hope you’ll enjoy the podcast. Feel free to connect with us on instagram at @Materialism.podcast. You can also send us questions or suggested podcast topics at