Why clay minerals ?

Interest in clays results from their common availability, and their unique physical and chemical properties. No other minerals currently attract so great an interest.

In addition to their conventional ancient use as bricks, tiles, ceramics and for paper coating and waste management more recently, clays have found many novel applications. Clay minerals have provided a boost in technology, because they are inexpensive nanomaterials, and as such, they have a huge potential for the synthesis of polymer nanocomposites with superior mechanical and thermal properties. The optimisation of adsorption, colloidal and rheological properties also opens prospects of using clay minerals for medical uses, pollution control, and environmental protection. Clay minerals play a role in economic geology (both as important mineral resource and in energy resource exploration) and soil management. Clays also have many negative effects in geotechnical engineering, manifested in the form of landslides, mudflows, and the deterioration of clay-based construction materials.

Clay knowledge is extremely inter- and multidisciplinary as it includes geological, geotechnical, mineralogical, physico-chemical and bio-geochemical aspects. The IMACS is the first master course addressing analytical techniques and their recent developments, clay mineral properties as well as their main application domains.

Thus, the complex and versatile nature of clays, as well as their numerous uses and applications, demand that clay engineers have a multidisciplinary education.

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