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All the materials, both natural materials such as wood and artificial new materials, have their internal structures (or microstructures).

Development of the “microstructure” study started with the microscopic observation of iron and steel by H.C. Sorby (1863), and metallography was in advance until the 1950s. But since then, microscopic study on ceramics and polymers also made a great advance, and rapid progress has been made in materials science, which all-inclusively deals with these materials of various science branches.

The “microstructure” study is also on the other lineage descended from “thermodynamics of heterogeneous equilibria” founded by J.W. Gibbs (1875). Because thermodynamics is originally a branch of science whose subject matter is “control of heat and force” and it has invisible and abstract conceptions of such keywords as energy, entropy, chemical potential, and so on, it may be less familiar to the students who aim to engage in material development.

However, the time has already come when we not only can construct a phase diagram of multicomponent system called “a map of a material,” but we can also predict change of microstructure such as “precipitation” or “eutectoid transformation” by computer calculation, and microscopic study cannot go without thermodynamics.

The title of this book was The Structures of Materials at first, but it has been changed to Thermodynamics of Microstructures in order to correspond to such an abrupt change of the situation. Moreover, this book avoids ordinary explanatory style, but adopts a Q&A style of exercises. This is because I think that it is much more effective in true comprehension of thermodynamics to practice actual examples than to learn fundamental laws by heart.

I hope this book will be a help to you as you work in material development.

This is the English version of the book published by the Japan Institute of Metals in 2005. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to ASM International, the Japan Institute of Metals, Prof. Kiyohito Ishida, Prof. Ikuo Ohnuma, Mr. Hiroyasu Takahashi, Mr. Akira Idogawa, Dr. Yoshimasa Kajiwara, and Mr. Charles Moosbrugger deeply for undertaking this publication.

Taiji Nishizawa
September 2008, Sendai

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