If you’re interested in materials science, design, architecture, and/or chemistry, and you live in Austin or the central Texas area, you should not miss the UT Austin School of Architecture Materials Lab, located in room 3.102 of the West Mall Office Building on The University of Texas Campus. They’re closed this week for Spring Break, but are normally open from 9-5 every weekday. It’s open to the public, and is chock-a-block with physical samples of all kinds of exotic materials that would otherwise be difficult to get your hands on in small quantities. Anyone can poke around, and registered students can check out samples just like a book-library.
If you’re not in the area, the UTSOA Materials Lab is building an online database of its collection organized by composition, form, properties, process, and application. And although they don’t have photos of all the samples uploaded yet, it’s still fascinating browsing.