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Hierarchical Materials (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

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.

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

Students in the program will complete degree requirements in their respective home departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering. The core curriculum will consist of a for-credit graduate apprenticeship seminar together with two electives taken from the following list of courses:

  • MAT_SCI 376: Nanomaterials
  • MAT_SCI 380: Introduction to Surface Science and Spectroscopy
  • MAT_SCI 451: Physics of Solids
  • MAT_SCI 456: Functional Metamaterials
  • MAT_SCI 458 Atomic-Scale Computational Materials Science
  • MAT_SCI  460: Electron Microscopy
  • CHEM 307: Materials and Nano Chemistry
  • CHEM 345: Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 448: Computational Chemistry
  • CHEM 445: Science and Technology at the Nanoscale
  • PHYSICS 422-1,2,3: Condensed Matter Physics
  • PHYSICS 436: Mesoscopic and Nanometer Scale Physics
  • PHYSICS 450: Advanced Topics in Condensed Matter Physics
  • ELEC_ENG 384: Solid State Electronic Devices
  • ES_APPM 346: Modeling/Computation

Additional courses are being developed specifically for the program, and courses not listed may be counted towards the program requirement by petition to the executive committee.

Graduate students in the program will form a thesis committee consisting of at least two program members with one member from outside the student’s home department. Participation in extra-curricular program activities is expected.

Prospective students should indicate interest in the Hierarchal Materials program on applications to the graduate programs of their intended home departments (MSE, Chemistry, ECE, CS, Physics, Mech E).  Students are admitted into the Hierarchical Materials program at the end of the first year of study.  Further details on the process will be provided in the summer of the first year.