The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at UVa offers graduate education and research programs in the structure, properties, processing, and performance of materials. The study of materials may be pursued according to their technical importance, as in ceramic or metallurgical engineering, or by considering the general principles that govern their properties. At the University of Virginia, the latter course has been adopted, leading to an understanding of materials through the study of both macroscopic and microscopic viewpoints.
The department provides a broad-based graduate education in materials, one component of which emphasizes the commonality among the various classes of engineering solids. Thus thermodynamics, kinetics, structural analysis and crystallography, defect theory, and principles of the solid state are strong features of the program. In addition, other courses relative to the application of materials and the relationships among materials properties, structure, and the manner in which materials have been processed are also offered. Extensive research programs complement formal course work. Active recent programs on metallurgy, environmental effects on material behavior, electronic materials, fatigue and fracture, tribology, composite materials, and materials processing reflect the diversity of the faculty’s research interests. In addition, the department houses the Center for Light Metals, which oversees a variety of research on A1, Mg, and Ti alloys and composites containing these metals. The Center for Electrochemical Sciences and Engineering conducts interdisciplinary research involving five departments. The Surface Science Laboratory conducts fundamental studies of the surfaces of materials and provides surface analysis services. The Electron Microscope and Image Processing Facility contains a number of electron and ion microscopes used for materials analysis by researchers throughout the Department and School. The newly established NSF-sponsored MRSEC for Nanoscopic Materials Design spearheads department efforts in the emerging field of nanotechnology.
The department offers the degrees of Master of Materials Science and Engineering (M.M.S.E.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees involve extensive-advised research, leading to a thesis or dissertation, respectively. The M.M.S.E. degree does not include a thesis and is most often achieved by graduate students enrolled in the SEAS distance-learning program. The program of study for each of these degrees has been developed consistent with the principles of academic excellence as a foundation for cutting-edge research and cross-disciplinary learning. Several courses are considered fundamental and constitute a required core for all graduate degrees in MSE. There is, however, great flexibility that enables the graduate student to adapt his or her choice of classes to particular fields of interest and specialization. The graduate program is structured to emphasize acquisition of knowledge and development of critical thinking skills.
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering also participates in the Virginia Cooperative Graduate Engineering Program by presenting televised graduate-level courses that lead to the Master of Materials Science and Engineering degree. These courses are broadcast via satellite to locations both in- and out- of-state in the late afternoon and early evening hours. In addition, the department participates in the Virginia Consortium of Engineering and Science universities program which can lead to the Ph.D. degree.
Department laboratories are well equipped with extensive instrumentation for the investigation of all aspects of materials structure and properties. A modern electron microscope facility includes a 200 kV field-emission gun (FEG) high-resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) equipped with a Gatan imaging filter (GIF) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer (EDXS); a 400 kV dedicated HRTEM with a point-to-point resolution of 0.17 nm; a 200 kV scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM) with EDXS and heating, cooling, and straining specimen holders; two scanning electron microscopes with EDXS, electron-beam lithography, cathodoluminescence and electron backscattered pattern (EBSP) attachments; and a focused ion beam (FIB) microscope equipped with a secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS). All microscopes are connected to computers for digital imaging and analysis. X-ray diffraction units provide facilities for a wide variety of single crystal and powder techniques. The polymer science laboratory offers facilities for infrared spectroscopy, viscosity, differential thermal analysis, automatic osmometry, and for the measurement of thermal, electrical, and optical properties of polymers and other macromolecules. Chemical vapor deposition facilities include equipment for the preparation of electronic materials from metal-organic compounds. The ion beam laboratory has a 110 kV heavy ion accelerator and a 300 kV ion implanter with multiple ultrahigh vacuum experimental chambers. Additional research is conducted in the area of advanced laser processing for nano-scale materials. The facilities include high-power pulsed ultra violet excimer and solid state lasers, time resolved mass spectroscopy and imaging, and in-situ diagnostics. Material research areas range from deposition of thin films (electronic, metallic, polymer) and surface modification to biological thin film processing and particulate coatings.
Other laboratories are equipped for research in physical metallurgy, fatigue and fracture, electrochemistry, surface studies, thin film properties, and materials processing. Their facilities include mass spectrometers; ultra-high vacuum deposition units; electron beam and vacuum furnaces; heat treating equipment; a rolling mill; numerous mechanical testing machines; a hot isostatic press; an X-ray texture gonimeter; optical metallographs; interference, polarizing, and hot stage microscopes; and sophisticated image analysis and processing facilities. A fully equipped machine shop and instrument shop are adjacent to the research laboratories.
Computational facilities within the department include a variety of workstations (SUN, DEC, SGI, and IBM) and personal computers. High performance computing is available through the University’s affiliations with National Computing Centers, and on the University’s 14-node IBM SP2 system housed in the Department of Information Technology and Communication (ITC).