Macroscopic Properties

Macroscopic Properties


  • Macroscopic properties refer to the physical characteristics of a material that can be observed without the aid of a microscope.
  • These are often the properties most directly related to a material’s use and application.

Mechanical Properties

  • Mechanical properties define a material’s reactions to mechanical forces, such as strength, ductility, hardness, and toughness.

  • Strength: Represents the stress that a material can withstand before failure or deformation. Not to be confused with hardness, which refers to a material’s resistance to localized deformation.

  • Ductility: A measurement of how much a material can deform before breaking under a tensile force. The opposite of this property is brittleness.

  • Elasticity: A measure of a material’s ability to return to its original size after being distorted. The permanent deformation after removal of stress is referred to as plastic deformation.

Physical Properties

  • Physical properties refer to those measurable characteristics which describe the physical system of a material.

  • Density: The mass of a material per unit volume. This property often bears upon the weight and hence the usability of a material.

  • Electrical conductivity: Refers to a material’s ability to conduct electric current. This property is crucial for materials required in electronics or power transmission.

  • Thermal properties: These indicate how a material behaves under temperature changes. They include thermal conductivity (how well a material transfers heat) and thermal expansion (how a material expands or contracts with temperature changes).

Chemical Properties

  • Chemical properties describe how a material behaves when it undergoes a chemical reaction.

  • Corrosion resistance: Indicates a material’s ability to resist corrosion, that is, the gradual destruction of a material by chemical reactions with its environment.

  • Reactivity: The likelihood of a material to engage in chemical reactions. Highly reactive materials may be dangerous or difficult to handle, but also may provide useful reactivity in controlled environments.

Optical Properties

  • Optical properties refer to how a material interacts with light.

  • Transparency: The ability of a material to transmit light without absorption and scattering. Glass is an obvious example of a transparent material.

  • Refractive index: The measure of how much light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material.