Student Spotlight: Ph.D. Candidate Isabella Costa
Costa is a third year Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at the University of California, Davis. Isabella is in the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation, or CGIF, President's Council of Student Advisors and brought CGIF Mini Kits to Brazil last year to expose students to materials science.
CGIF interviewed Costa to learn more about her passion for materials science and engineering. Read her questions and answers below.
What inspires you to do the work that you do?
My greatest inspiration is that outreach projects like "Material’s Magic" can create a new perspective in teenagers’ lives. As a material scientist, it is not unusual to hear the question: What do you do? Sharing my experience and explaining my profession to an early generation can open their minds to a new career opportunity and show the importance of understanding and designing new materials.
What is one way materials science impacts our everyday life?
Everything around us is made of matter, your car, clothes. The materials designed for every application were studied and chosen to ensure that they will withstand the requirements (thermal, mechanical, and electric properties). The electric wires, for instance, are made of materials that have good electrical conductivity. However, to prevent the loss of free-flowing electricity from the conductor, wires are insulated with materials such as polymers, which helps focus the electricity toward its intended destination.
How can materials science change the world?
The advance in materials sciences can significantly impact the development of new technologies. Graphene, for example, was discovered in 2004. It is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms with unique electrical, optical, and mechanical properties, making it an attractive material for a wide range of applications. Its discovery could make possible the development of high-speed and flexible electronic devices based on materials.
What is your favorite fun fact about materials science?
Black Panther’s suit was inspired by the same material used in the BBQ lighter. It is a specific type of material that generates a voltage when mechanical stress is applied to it, called Piezoelectric Materials. In the case of BBQ lighters, a hammer strikes the piezoelectric material that produces enough current to generate a spark that ignites the flammable gas. On the other hand, the Black Panther’s suit electric field is created when bullets hit it.