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Difference Between Solid State Physicist and Materials Engineer

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I would like to know what is the difference between a solid state physicist and a materials engineer. I mean, do they end up doing the same kind of job or research? If they both have the same purpose, how can they do it having different backgrounds? Which preparation is better for the purpose?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Huge difference.

They overlap in the sense that they both require some materials science to understand well (IMHO), but both the curricula and the typical areas of employments are dramatically different.

For instance (simple examples): A materials engineer may study the science of welding, something solid state physicists never (?) touch on. A solid state physicist may study the properties of novel high temperature superconductors, which is definitely out of bounds for most materials engineers.
 
  • #3
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For instance (simple examples): A materials engineer may study the science of welding, something solid state physicists never (?) touch on. A solid state physicist may study the properties of novel high temperature superconductors, which is definitely out of bounds for most materials engineers.
These examples are spot-on but the transition is (was?) possible: I have studied high-temperature superconductors as a physicist - but in my first job I worked with other trained materials scientists - specializing in the microstructure of stainless steel (contract research for steel industry). A former colleague of mine with a background in superconductors and semiconductors was employed to do research on welding processes later (in industry).

I think the overlap and employable skills is the familiarity with various technologies and devices, such as X-ray diffration, STEM, TEM, spectroscopy, handling of samples in a lab and related quality management etc.
 

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