Jun 18, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 
Rensselaer Catalog 2008-2009 [Archived Catalog]

Materials Science and Engineering

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Department Head: Robert Hull

Undergraduate Advising: Daniel Gall

Graduate Recruiting: Linda Schadler

Graduate Advising: Christoph Steinbruchel

Department Home Page: http://www.eng.rpi.edu/dept/materials/

Progress in modern technology is often limited by the availability of suitable solid materials. The materials engineer must produce materials to meet the demands of the designers of jet engines and rocket boosters, microelectronic devices, optical components, medical prostheses, and many other products.

The principles that govern the processing and structure of materials to produce optimum mechanical and physical properties and performance are embodied in the materials engineering curriculum. The program is designed to produce engineers and scientists whose degrees represent useful specialization coupled with a broad background in all classes of materials.

Undergraduate students wishing to extend their education can undertake specialized study in a range of fields. These include research in ceramics, polymers, composites, nanostructured materials, high-temperature alloys, solidification, corrosion, deformation processing, welding, high-strength high-modulus materials, biomaterials, electronic materials, surface and molecular kinetics, glass science, and the origin of mechanical and physical properties in many different types of materials. Graduate students, in addition to pursuing classroom courses, conduct research in a variety of areas described below and write their theses based on this research. Extensive laboratories containing modern and sophisticated equipment are available.

For the student who likes to innovate and who wants to apply knowledge to the real problems of a modern technological society, materials science and engineering provides a broad range of exciting opportunities.

Research and Innovation Initiatives

Materials Processing

Major research programs include fundamental studies of the solidification process and the effect of solidification under reduced gravity on the formation of dendritic structures, and practically oriented programs in the extrusion processing of aluminum alloys. In the latter program, studies of the complex interactions among stress, strain rate, and temperature during forming processes have made it possible to apply advanced software models to the control of metalworking operations. Studies of powder processing have made possible the extrusion processing of composite materials, while research on joining processes has led to synergistic coupling of adhesive bonding and spot welding technology in automotive sheet metal fabrication. New efforts focused on the synthesis, processing, and properties of nanostructured materials are expanding the capabilities of materials engineering and nanotechnology into additional areas including ceramics, metals, polymers, composites, and biomaterials. Novel applications of carbon nanotubes for device and chemical applications are under investigation, along with chemical, electrical, and mechanical isolation engineering using nanocomposites.

Materials for Microelectronic Systems

This research concentrates on materials problems associated with the interconnections between integrated circuit elements. Included are the growth of thin films of metals and both polymer and ceramic dielectric materials, the patterning and etching processes necessary for the fabrication of multilayer devices, and the planarization processes necessary for successful device fabrication.

Glasses and Ceramics

Research efforts focus on factors influencing the useful lifetime of glass components and the effect of environments, especially aqueous environments, on glass failure. In addition to the conventional applications such as windows and bottles, glasses are used as optical components such as optical communication fibers. Specifically, variation of the glass surface structure with time and its influence on glass properties are under investigation. Another emphasis is the development of nonoxide glasses, primarily those based on fluorides, as the transmitting medium in optical fibers for communications purposes.

High-Performance Composite Materials

These materials are used in industrial and consumer products due to their exceptional stiffness and strength-to-weight ratios. Applications of composites in the construction industry, such as steel bridge repairs using graphite-epoxy composites, are growing rapidly. Meanwhile, next generation conceptual plans for hybrid electric vehicles are using ceramic composite components for gas turbine engines and thermal recuperators. Composites research activities at Rensselaer include ceramic, metallic, and polymer matrix composites; micromechanics and modeling of both fabrication processes and materials properties; design with new materials; synthesis of new matrix materials; and all aspects of the fabrication and characterization of composites and composite structures. Of special note is the sailplane program, in which students have designed, fabricated, and tested an all-composite glider, which has now been flying for over seven years. A new project, the composite hybrid electric vehicle, has also been initiated and offers numerous opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate participation.

Faculty *


Chrisey, D.B.—Ph.D. (University of Virginia); novel laser microfabrication, mesoscopic conformal electronics, thin film batteries, laser shock processing, magnetically controlled biological sensors, nanoparticles at high pressure.

Duquette, D.J.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); environmental and surface effects on the mechanical behavior of metals, corrosion, stress corrosion fatigue (John Tod Horton Distinguished Professor in Materials Engineering).

Hull, R. - Ph.D. (Oxford University); Nanoscaled materials, electronic materials, semiconductors, interfaces, crystalline defects, nanofabrication, materials characterization, electron microscopy and focused ion beams (Henry Burlage Jr. Professor of Engineering and Department Head).

Keblinski, P. - Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University); atomic mesoscopic-level computational modeling of interfacial processes; structure-property correlations; interfaces in silicon, diamond and metals; thin film growth; phase separation.

Messler, R.W., Jr.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); materials in manufacturing, welding.

Ramanath, G.—Ph.D. (University of Illinois); thin film electronic materials; interconnects, diffusion barriers, low-k dielectrics; characterization of interfacial reactions, kinetics, and mechanisms of microstructure and phase evolution during deposition and annealing; processing self-organized structures for microelectronics applications.

Schadler, L.S.—Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania); polymer and glass matrix composites, micromechanical behavior, strains and interface properties, micro-Raman spectroscopy, environmental effects.

Siegel, R.W.—Ph.D. (University of Illinois); synthesis, processing, structure, and properties of functional nanostructured materials including metals, ceramics, and composites; biomaterials; atomic-scale defects and diffusion in materials (Robert W. Hunt Professor).

Tomozawa, M.—Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania); electrical properties of glasses, X-ray and light scattering, phase separation, mechanical properties of glasses.

Wright, R.N.—Sc.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); metal forming and fabrication, mechanical behavior of metals.

Associate Professors

Gall, D. —Ph.D. (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); physical properties of thin films and nanostructures; combined theory, modeling and experimentation in thin film technology as applied to electronic structures and properties, transition-metal nitride film growth and characterization.

Ozisik, R.—Ph.D. (The University of Akron, Ohio); multiscale simulations of polymers, surface and interface properties of nanoparticles; development and characterization of fuel cells.

Steinbruchel, C.—Ph.D. (University of Minnesota); thin films, electronic materials, plasma processing, ion beam and ultra-high vacuum techniques.

Assistant Professors

Lewis, D.J.—Ph.D. (Lehigh University); solidification and diffusion in multicomponent solids, modeling of phase transformations.

Research Professors

Eisman, G. —Ph.D. (Northeastern University); fuel cells, ceramic powder synthesis, electrochemical engineering, chloralkali technology.

Emeritus Faculty

Chung, C.I. —Ph.D. (Rutgers University); polymer processing, polymer melt theology, relaxation behavior in polymer solids.

Ficalora, P.J.—Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University); kinetics and thermodynamics of heterogeneous reactions, chemisorption effects on electronic materials.

Hudson, J.B.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); adsorption on solid surfaces, structure and reactivity of solids, physics and chemistry of surfaces, nanocrystal growth.

MacCrone, R.J.—D.Phil. (University of Oxford); electric properties of polymers and oxides, polarons, electron paramagnetic resonance and magnetic behavior of glasses, phase transformations, nucleation, electrical properties of thin oxide and nitride films, one-dimensional conductivity.

Moynihan, C.T.—Ph.D. (Princeton University); ionic transport in glass, infrared transmission in glasses and glass ceramics, thermodynamic properties of glasses.

Murarka, S.P.—Ph.D. (University of Minnesota); Ph.D. (University of Agra); metallization for deep submicron silicon integrated circuits, low temperature and localized processes, thin dielectric films, diffusion and defects (Elaine S. and Jack S. Parker Chair in Engineering).

Sternstein, S.S.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); high-performance composites; physical properties of polymers; rubber elasticity theory; fracture, yielding, and craze formation in glassy polymers and composites, viscoelastic properties; swelling in filled elastomers (William Weightman Walker Professor of Polymer Engineering).

Stoloff, N.S.—Ph.D. (Columbia University); mechanical behavior of crystals, order-disorder reactions, fracture, stress corrosion.

Manager of Electron Microscopy Facilities
Dove, R.

Manager of Instruction Laboratories
Van Steele, D.

Manager of Metallographic Facilities
Planty, R.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2008 Board of Trustees meeting.

Undergraduate Programs

Objectives of the Undergraduate Curriculum

While certain objectives of an undergraduate education in engineering are common to all programs, there are subtle but important differences that require some subset of objectives specific to ensuring that all graduates have specialized technical knowledge in their chosen field.
In this regard, the graduates of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering’s baccalaureate program will be prepared for entry-level positions as Materials Engineers or for Graduate School. In particular, graduates will:
  • Be able to use their broad knowledge of all classes of materials, and their background in mathematics and science, to contribute effectively to the solution of engineering problems, including problems involving design.
  • Be especially aware of the interdependence of the structure, properties, processing, and performance of materials.
  • Be broadly educated and thus capable of dealing with engineering problems and their societal consequences.
  • Be experienced in working with multi-disciplinary teams and in communicating clearly and convincingly in a variety of contexts.
  • Recognize the need for continued future learning and have a desire to engage in such learning.

Graduate Programs 

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering offers programs leading to the M.S., M.Eng., and Ph.D. degrees.

Master’s Programs

Both the M.S. and M.Eng. degrees require completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours.

Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. degree requires completion of 90 credit hours. Students must complete at least 27 credits of course work, the remainder being credits for research work leading to a Ph.D. thesis. The program must include 18 credits from the five core graduate courses (Advanced Mechanical Properties (4 credits), Advanced Thermodynamics (4 credits), Advanced Structure of Materials (4 credits), Advanced Electronic Properties (3 credits), and Advanced Kinetics of Materials Reactions (3 credits). The first two courses are offered each Fall semester, and the latter three courses each Spring semester. The program must also include at least nine additional credits from three graduate level (6000-level) courses in the School of Engineering or the School of Science. The student must pass an oral preliminary examination covering the five core subjects, an oral candidacy examination, as well as the final examination on the Ph.D. thesis.

Course Descriptions

Courses directly related to the Materials Engineering curricula are described in the Course Descriptions section of this catalog primarily under the department code MTLE.

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