Skip to content
MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

Home > Schools & Courses > Engineering > Materials Science & Engineering

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Materials science and engineering is a field broadly based in chemistry, physics, and the engineering sciences. The field is concerned with the design, manufacture, and use of all classes of materials (including metals, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and biomaterials), and with energy, environmental, health, economic, and manufacturing issues relating to materials. Materials science and engineering is a field critical to our future economic and environmental well-being.

Materials science emphasizes the study of the structure of materials and of processing-structure-property relations in materials. Almost all the properties of importance to an engineer are structure-sensitive—that is, they can be modified in significant ways by changing the chemical composition, the arrangement of the atoms or molecules in crystalline or amorphous configurations, and the size, shape, and orientation of the crystals or other macroscopic units of a solid. To understand how the useful properties of a material can be modified, it is necessary to understand the fundamental relationships between structure and properties and how the structure can be changed and controlled by the various chemical, thermal, mechanical, or other treatments to which a material is subjected during manufacture and in use. The fundamental understanding of materials developed through materials science has replaced empiricism as the basis for discovery of new materials. Whole classes of new materials such as semiconductors, superconductors, and high-temperature alloys have their roots in modern materials science.

Recent achievements in materials have depended as much on advances in materials engineering as they have on materials science. When developing engineering processes for preparation and production of materials, and when designing materials for specific applications, the materials engineer must understand fundamental concepts such as thermodynamics, and heat and mass transfer and chemical kinetics, and must also have a proper concern for economic, social, and environmental factors. Today's materials scientists and engineers are well equipped to address some of the key challenges facing humanity, including energy generation and storage and the environmental impact of human activities, and to improve human health and well-being.

Materials engineering and materials science are interwoven in the department. There are some subjects that all students of materials should know: thermodynamics, kinetics, materials structure, electronic and mechanical properties of materials, bio- and polymeric materials, and materials processing. Core subjects in these areas are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, elective subjects covering a wide range of topics are offered. Lectures are complemented by a variety of laboratory experiences. By selecting appropriate subjects, the student can follow many different paths with emphasis on engineering, science, or a mixture of the two. In addition, students may pursue a path in archaeology and archaeological science by selecting subjects that focus on archaeological materials research within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology. This curriculum is unique within departments of anthropology, archaeology, and engineering.

Materials engineers and materials scientists, whether generalists or specialists in a particular class of material, are in continually high demand by industry and government for jobs in research, development, production, and management. They find challenging opportunities in diverse important positions in companies working on energy and the environment, in the electronics industry, in the aerospace industry, in consumer industries, and in biomaterials and medical industries. A large number of DMSE alumni are faculty of leading universities.

The department has modern undergraduate materials teaching laboratories containing a wide variety of materials processing and characterization equipment. The Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory on the Infinite Corridor includes facilities for biomaterials research, chemical synthesis, and physical and electronic properties measurement. The new Laboratory for Advanced Materials, located across the hall, was completed in 2010. It contains new characterization equipment for scanning acoustical microscopy, near-field and scanning laser confocal microscopes, and low-temperature multiprobe. Other departmental facilities include those for preparation and characterization of thin films, ceramics and glasses, metallic and nonmetallic crystals, biomaterials, and polymers. Equipment is available for the study of mechanical properties in the Nanomechanics Laboratory, and for metal casting and joining in the Foundry. Materials are characterized by optical, electron (TEM, SEM), and scanning probe (AFM, STM) microscopy, and there is equipment for a wide range of electrical optical, magnetic, and mechanical property measurements.

back to top

Undergraduate Study

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers three undergraduate degree programs:

  • Course 3, leading to the Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering, is taken by the majority of undergraduates in the department, and is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org/.
  • Course 3-A, leading to the Bachelor of Science without specification, provides greater flexibility to the student in designing his or her professional program, and is often taken by pre-med, pre-law, or pre-MBA students.
  • Course 3-C provides a Bachelor of Science in Archaeology and Materials.

The department also offers research and educational specialization in a large number of industrially and scientifically important areas leading to master's and doctoral degrees.

Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering/Course 3
[see degree chart]

The undergraduate program serves the needs of students who intend to pursue employment in materials-related industries immediately upon graduation, as well as those who will do graduate work in the engineering or science of materials. The program is designed to be started at the beginning of the sophomore year, although it can be started in the spring term of the sophomore year or in the junior year with some loss of scheduling flexibility.

The first four academic terms of the program contain required core subjects that address the fundamental relations between processing, microstructure, properties, and applications of modern materials. The core subjects are followed by a sequence of restricted electives that provide more specialized coverage of the major classes of modern materials: biomaterials, ceramics, electronic materials, metals, and polymers, as well as cross-cutting topics relevant to all types of materials. Course 3 students write either a senior thesis or an internship report based on a summer industrial internship. This provides an opportunity for original research work beyond that which occurs elsewhere in the program.

The required subjects can be completed in the sophomore and junior years within a schedule that allows students to take a HASS subject each term, and a range of elective junior and senior subjects. Departmental advisors work with students to assist in selecting elective subjects suitable to the student's needs and interests. While the program should satisfy the academic needs of most students, petitions for variations or substitutions may be approved by the departmental Undergraduate Committee; students should contact their advisor for guidance in such cases.

Participation in laboratory work by undergraduates is an integral part of the curriculum. The departmental core subjects include extensive laboratory exercises, which investigate materials properties, structure, and processing, and are complementary to the lecture subjects. The junior-year core includes a capstone laboratory subject, 3.042, that emphasizes design, materials processing, teamwork, communication skills, and project management. Undergraduate students also have access to extensive facilities for research in materials as part of UROP and thesis projects. Engineering design figures prominently in a substantial portion of the laboratory exercises. Students develop oral and written communication skills by reporting data and analysis in a variety of ways.

Students may substitute industrial internship reports (12 units of 3.930/3.931 Industrial Practice) for the senior thesis (3.ThU). Students should select this option during their sophomore year, and take 3.930 in the summer after the sophomore year and 3.931 in the summer following the junior year. This option provides a student with industrial experience concurrently with academic work through cooperative work assignments matched to the student's capabilities and arranged by the department. Together with a company representative, a faculty advisor is assigned to each student to assist as co-supervisor during his or her work assignments. Students earn a salary during their work periods and also receive academic credit.

Bachelor of Science/Course 3-A

Some students may be attracted to the many opportunities available in the materials discipline, but also have special interests that are not satisfied by the Course 3 program. For instance, some students may wish to take more biology and chemistry subjects in preparation for medical school, or more management subjects prior to entering an MBA or law program. In these cases, the 3-A program may be of value as a more flexible curriculum in which a larger number of elective choices is available.

The curriculum requirements for Course 3-A are similar to, but more flexible than, those for Course 3. Five subjects chosen from the core (3.012; 3.016, 18.03, or 18.034; 3.021J, 3.016, 1.00, or 6.01; 3.022; 3.024; 3.032; 3.034; 3.042; and 3.044) and one laboratory subject (3.014) are required, along with any three additional subjects (36 units) selected from the list of Restricted Electives shown under Course 3. In addition to these nine subjects, the student should develop a program of six planned elective subjects appropriate to the student's stated goals. CI-M designated subjects for Course 3-A include 3.014, 2.009, 2.671, 3.042, 3.155J, 5.36, 5.38, 6.021J/2.791J/20.370J, and 7.02.

As an example of a 3-A program, a student planning a career in medicine might select the following subjects in addition to the above requirements in order to satisfy the premedical requirements recommended by the MIT Global Education and Career Development Center: 7.02, 5.12, 5.13, 5.310, 7.05.

Students considering the 3-A program should contact the departmental advisor (Professor David Roylance, roylance@mit.edu), who will counsel the student more fully on the academic considerations involved. Under his guidance, the student will prepare a complete plan of study which must be approved by the departmental Undergraduate Committee. This approval must be obtained no later than the beginning of the student's junior year. Students are then expected to adhere to this plan unless circumstances require a change, in which case a petition for a modified program must be submitted to the Undergraduate Committee. The department does not seek ABET accreditation for the 3-A program.

Bachelor of Science in Archaeology and Materials as Recommended by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering/Course 3-C
[see degree chart]

Students who have a specific interest in archaeology and archaeological science may choose Course 3-C. The 3-C program is designed to afford students broad exposure to fields that contribute fundamental theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of ancient and historic societies. The primary fields include anthropological archaeology, geology, and materials science and engineering. The program enriches knowledge of past and present-day nonindustrial societies by making the natural and engineering sciences part of the archaeological tool kit.

The program's special focus is on understanding prehistoric culture through study of the structure and properties of materials associated with human activities. Investigating peoples' interactions with materials, the objects that such interactions produced, and the related environmental settings, leads to a fuller analysis of the physical, social, cultural, and ideological world in which people function. These are the goals of anthropological archaeology, goals that are reached, in part, through science and engineering perspectives.

Participation in laboratory work by undergraduates is an integral part of the curriculum. The program requires that all students take a materials laboratory subject. Many of the archaeology subjects are designed with a laboratory component; such subjects meet in the Undergraduate Archaeology and Materials Laboratory. Undergraduate students also have access to the extensive CMRAE facilities for research in archaeological materials as part of UROP and thesis projects. Such projects may include archaeological fieldwork during IAP or the summer months.

The HASS Concentration in Archaeology and Archaeological Science provides concentrators with a basic knowledge of the field of archaeology, the systematic study of the human past. Students pursuing the SB in 3-C may not also concentrate in this area. The archaeology and archaeological science concentration consists of four subjects: 3.986, 3.985J, and two other HASS electives from among those currently offered in this subject area: 3.094, 3.982, 3.983, 3.987, 3.993. The department does not seek ABET accreditation for the 3-C program. Students may contact Dr. Harry Merrick for more information.

Minors

The Minor in Materials Science and Engineering consists of six undergraduate subjects totalling at least 72 units from the list of Required Subjects and Restricted Electives in the departmental program, with at least one of these taken from the list of Restricted Electives. With the approval of the minor advisor, it may be possible to substitute one subject taken outside the department for one of the Course 3 subjects in the minor program, provided that the coverage of the substituted subject is similar to one of those in the departmental program.

The department's minor advisor, Professor David Roylance, will ensure that individual minor programs form a coherent group of subjects. Because of the breadth of the undergraduate program in the department, and the variety of possibilities for specialization, the minor program is flexible in its composition. Examples of minor programs in materials science and engineering with specializations in the areas of biomaterials, ceramics, electronic materials, metallurgy, and polymers can be obtained from the department. Other suitable programs may be composed through consultation between students, the minor advisor, and the Undergraduate Committee.

The Minor in Archaeology and Materials (3-C) consists of six undergraduate subjects totaling 72 units. The five required subjects are 3.012 Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering, 3.014 Materials Laboratory, 3.022 Microstructural Evolution in Materials, 3.986 The Human Past: Introduction to Archaeology (HASS-S), and 3.985 Archaeological Science (HASS-S). The sixth subject is an elective from the Archaeology and Archaeological Science subject listings. With the approval of the minor advisor, it may be possible to substitute one subject taken outside the Course 3 program provided the coverage is equivalent. The department's 3-C minor advisor, Professor Dorothy Hosler, will ensure that the minor program forms a coherent group of subjects.

A general description of the minor program at MIT may be found under Undergraduate Education in Part 1.

Inquiries

Additional information regarding undergraduate programs may be obtained from Professor Lionel Kimerling, Room 13-4118, 617-253-5383, lckim@mit.edu, or from the Academic Office, Room 6-107, 617-258-5816.

back to top

Graduate Study

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers the degrees of Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering.

Doctoral Degree

The subjects 3.20 Materials at Equilibrium, 3.21 Kinetic Processes in Materials, 3.22 Mechanical Properties of Materials, and 3.23 Electrical, Optical, and Magnetic Properties of Materials are basic to all doctoral degree programs and constitute a required core for all graduate students enrolled in doctoral programs in the department. The general written examination covers material in the doctoral core.

In the thesis area examination (oral presentation and examination), students are expected to learn the fundamentals of their chosen field and to develop a deep understanding of one or more of its significant aspects. Students are required to take three further subjects from an approved restricted electives list. A full range of advanced-level subjects is offered in a variety of topics, and arrangements can be made for individually planned study of any relevant topic. The thesis area examinations for the doctoral degree are designed accordingly. In addition, students are required to take a two- or three-subject minor program.

A large and active research program on the structure and properties, preparation, and processing of materials, with emphasis on ceramics, electronic materials, metals, polymers, and biomaterials, is conducted in the department. Graduate research is considered the central part of the educational process, and emphasis is placed on the research thesis. Students choose research projects from the many opportunities that exist within the department, and work closely with an individual faculty member. The results of the thesis must be of sufficient significance to warrant publication in the scientific literature.

The department maintains a large number of well-equipped research laboratories, and there is significant interaction between them, including the sharing of experimental facilities and equipment. Most department members have access to the Center for Materials Science and Engineering, which provides and maintains excellent central facilities, or the Materials Processing Center. Both centers provide interdisciplinary research opportunities as described in Interdisciplinary Research and Study in Part 3.

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Archaeological Materials

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers an interdisciplinary doctoral program for individuals who wish to consider the study of archaeology and materials science and pursue research in the field of archaeological materials. Admission to the program is through the department. The program requires four core subjects—half in materials science and engineering, half in archaeology—and six additional subjects. Many of the subject requirements may be met with coursework in the Architecture; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences; Mechanical Engineering; and Urban Studies and Planning departments; or additionally in the Technology and Policy Program; the Program in Science, Technology, and Society; and the Anthropology Department at Harvard University. Field research opportunities are available, most notably in Mesoamerica and South America.

Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Polymer Science and Technology

See Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in Part 3 for information on this program.

Master of Science in Materials Science and Engineering

The department offers a Master of Science degree in materials science and engineering. The general requirements for the master's degree are described under Graduate Education in Part 1. The coherent program of subjects (34 units, though not necessarily all Course 3 subjects) must be approved by the Department Committee on Graduate Students in Course 3. Of the 66 total units required for the master's degree, 42 graduate degree credits are required to be in Course 3 subjects at graduate H-level. The thesis must have significant materials research content and an internal departmental thesis reader is required if the student's advisor is outside Course 3. Subjects 3.577 and 3.80J, may not be used to satisfy the departmental requirement that students earn 42 graduate H-level credits in Course 3 subjects.

The department may also recommend awarding a master's degree without departmental specification; the general requirements are described under Graduate Education in Part 1. The thesis must be materials-related, and an internal departmental thesis reader is required if the thesis advisor is outside Course 3.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Joint Program with the Technology and Policy Program

The Master of Science in Technology and Policy is an engineering research degree with a strong focus on the role of technology in policy analysis and formulation. The Technology and Policy Program (TPP) curriculum provides a solid grounding in technology and policy by combining advanced subjects in the student's chosen technical field with courses in economics, politics, and law. Many students combine TPP's curriculum with complementary subjects to obtain dual degrees in TPP and either a specialized branch of engineering or an applied social science such as political science or urban studies and planning. For additional information, see the program description under Engineering Systems Division or visit http://web.mit.edu/tpp/.

Simultaneous Award of Two Master of Science Degrees for Students from Other Departments

Graduate students may seek two Master of Science degrees simultaneously or in sequence, one awarded by the student's home department and the other by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The rules governing dual degrees are found in the section detailing degree requirements under Graduate Education in Part 1. Additional information on requirements that must also be met to obtain the Master of Science degree from the Materials Science and Engineering Department is available from the department.

Entrance Requirements for Graduate Study

General admissions requirements are described under Graduate Education in Part 1. Programs are arranged on an individual basis depending upon the preparation and interests of the student. Those who have not studied some thermodynamics and kinetics at the undergraduate level are advised to take 3.012 Fundamentals of Materials and 3.022 Microstructural Evolution.

Requirements for Completion of Graduate Degrees

The general requirements for completion of graduate degrees are also described under Graduate Education in Part 1. Students completing a Master of Science degree are required to present a seminar summarizing the thesis. The department requires that candidates for the doctoral degrees go through a qualifying procedure and pass Institute-mandated general written and oral examinations before continuing with their programs of study and research, and that they satisfy a minor requirement. Information on the qualifying procedure and on the subject areas covered by the general examinations is available from the chair of the Departmental Committee on Graduate Students.

Teaching/Research Assistantships and Fellowships

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers assistantships and fellowships for graduate study. Research and teaching assistantships are available in the fields in which the department is active.

Inquiries

Additional information regarding graduate programs, admissions, and financial aid may be obtained by writing to the Academic Office, Room 6-107, 617-253-3302.

back to top

Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Christopher Schuh, PhD
Danae and Vasilis Salapatas Professor of Ferrous Metallurgy
MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Department Head

Caroline Anne Ross, PhD
Toyota Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Associate Department Head

Harry Louis Tuller, EngScD
Professor of Ceramics and Electronic Materials
Admissions Officer

Jeffrey Grossman, PhD
Professor of Mechanical and Materials Science and Engineering
UROP Coordinator
Undergraduate Officer

Gerbrand Ceder, PhD
Richard P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Graduate Officer

Professors

Samuel Miller Allen, PhD
POSCO Professor of Physical Metallurgy without Tenure (Retired)

Ronald George Ballinger, ScD
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Nuclear Science and Engineering

Angela Belcher, PhD
W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biological Engineering

W. Craig Carter, PhD
POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Gerbrand Ceder, PhD
Richard P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Yet-Ming Chiang, ScD
Kyocera Professor of Ceramics

Michael John Cima, PhD
David H. Koch Professor of Engineering
Director, Lemelson–MIT Program

Joel Phillip Clark, ScD
Professor of Materials Systems

Thomas Waddy Eagar, ScD
Professor of Materials Engineering and Materials Systems

Yoel Fink, PhD
Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Director, Research Laboratory of Electronics

Eugene A. Fitzgerald, PhD
Merton C. Flemings-SMA Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Merton C. Flemings, ScD
Toyota Professor of Materials Processing without Tenure

Lorna Jane Gibson, PhD
Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Linn Walker Hobbs, DPhil
Professor of Materials Science and Nuclear Science and Engineering without Tenure (Retired)

Dorothy Hosler, PhD
Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Technology

Darrell J. Irvine, PhD
Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering
Howard Hughes Medical Investigator
Director, Program in Polymer Science and Technology

Klavs F. Jensen, PhD
Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering
Head, Department of Chemical Engineering

Lionel Cooper Kimerling, PhD
Thomas Lord Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Heather Nan Lechtman, MA
Professor of Archaeology and Ancient Technology
Director, Center for Materials Research in Archaelogy and Ethnology

Christine Ortiz, PhD
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Dean for Graduate Education

Michael Francis Rubner, PhD
TDK Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Director, Center for Materials Science and Engineering

Donald Robert Sadoway, PhD
John F. Elliott Professor of Metallurgy

Yang Shao-Horn, PhD
Gail E. Kendall Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering

Carl Vernette Thompson, PhD
Stavros Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
Director, Materials Processing Center

Harry Louis Tuller, EngScD
Professor of Ceramics and Electronic Materials

Sidney Yip, PhD
Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering without Tenure (Retired)

Associate Professors

Alfredo Alexander-Katz, PhD
Walter Henry Gale Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engieering

Geoffrey Stephen Beach, PhD
Class of '58' Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Silvija Gradecak, PhD
Thomas Lord Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Krystyn Van Vliet, PhD
Paul M. Cook Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering

Assistant Professors

Antoine Allanore, PhD
Thomas B. King Assistant Professor of Metallurgy

Polina O. Anikeeva, PhD
AMAX Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Michael J. Demkowicz, PhD
Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Niels Holten-Andersen, PhD
Chipman Career Development Assistant Professor

Juejun Hu, PhD
Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Elsa A. Olivetti, PhD
Thomas Lord Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Visiting Professor

Kazumi Wada
Professor in Materials Science and Engineering

Senior Lecturers

Michel Jurgen, PhD
Daivd I. Paul, PhD

Lecturers

Geetha Berera, PhD
Kathryn M. Grossman, PhD
Joseph Parse, PhD
Michael J. Tarkanian, MS
Meri Treska, PhD

Technical Instructors

Christopher Di Perna
Tara J. Fadenrecht
Isaac Feitler
Franklin Hobbs
Jessica G. Sandland

Instructor

Peter Houk

Research Staff

Principal Research Scientist

Ming Dao

Research Scientists

MD Ruhul Amin
David C. Bono
Monica Diez Silva
Xiaoman Duan
Anna Jagielska
John M. Maloney
Nurxat Nuraje
Jifa Qi
Alan Schwartzman
Hyon-Jee Lee Voigt

Research Specialist

George LaBonte

Technical Assistant

Wuhbet Abraham

Sponsored Research Technical Staff

Donald Galler

Visiting Scientists

John R. Beresford
Sean Bishop
Xueyin Sun
Richard Taylor

Professors Emeriti

Robert Weierter Balluffi, ScD
Professor of Physical Metallurgy, Emeritus

Harry Constantine Gatos, PhD
Professor of Molecular Engineering and Electronic Materials, Emeritus

Ronald Michael Latanision, PhD
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Regis Marc Noel Pelloux, ScD
Professor of Materials Engineering, Emeritus

Robert Michael Rose, ScD
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Emeritus

David Kaye Roylance, PhD
Professor of Materials Engineering and Engineering, Emeritus

Kenneth Calvin Russell, PhD
Professor of Metallurgy and Nuclear Engineering, Emeritus

Subra Suresh, PhD
Vannevar Bush Professor of Engineering, Emeritus

Edwin L. Thomas, PhD
Professor of Materials Science, Emeritus

John Bruce Vander Sande, PhD
Professor of Materials Science, Emeritus

Bernhardt John Wuensch, PhD
Professor of Ceramics, Emeritus

 

need help?  |  change log  |  back to top