Hierarchical Materials

Program Type: Cluster

The Hierarchical Materials Cluster provides new opportunities for cross-disciplinary student research and training by integrating the strengths of the Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry Departments in nanostructured materials research with the strengths of the Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering Departments in the measurement and modeling of physical properties.

Three themes provide the intellectual foundation of the program:

  • Synthesis and Processing
  • Multi-scale Imaging and Characterization
  • Multi-scale Modeling and Analysis

Cluster themes are explored through coursework, program activities, and research. Cluster students pursue multi-disciplinary Ph.D. research projects that include a range of activities such as:                     

Synthesis and Processing:

  • Synthesis and assembly of semiconductor nanocrystals, nanowires, and carbon nanotubes
  • Nanofabrication of patterned thin films for photonics and plasmonics
  • Synthesis of novel thermoelectric materials
  • Nanopatterning of functional oxides

Multi-Scale Imaging and Characterization:

  • Scanning tunneling microscopy
  • Atomic force microscopy and near-field scanning optical microscopy
  • Advanced electron microscopy and tomography
  • Surface-sensitive spectroscopy

Multi-scale Modeling and Analysis:

  • Finite-difference time domain simulations
  • Density functional theory
  • Multi-scale mechanical modeling

See Hierarchical Materials Cluster Requirements for specific courses and procedures needed to complete this program.

Programs and Events

The Hierarchical Materials Cluster provides a series of programs and events including a scientific writing workshop and a lunch seminar series.  More details will be disseminated to program participants in advance of these events.

Who Should Apply?

Doctoral candidates from any field are eligible to apply to join this intellectual “home” outside their department. Past participants have come from the following programs:

  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Mechanical Engineering.

How to Apply

First-year students are invited to take part in the symposia, work groups, and colloquia offered by all of the clusters to see what may interest them later in their career. At the end of their first year, students will apply to a cluster.

Who to Contact

Please contact the program director, listed below, with questions about this program.

Mark Hersam
Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
2220 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208-3108   

Email: m-hersam@northwestern.edu
Phone: (847) 491-2696