Samueli Materials Science and Engineering 101

At the heart of materials science is an understanding of the microstructure of solids. “Microstructure” is used broadly in reference to solids viewed at the subatomic (electronic) and atomic levels, and the nature of the defects at these levels. The microstructures of solids at various levels, especially the defects, profoundly influence the mechanical, electronic, chemical, and biological properties of solids. The phenomenological and mechanistic relationships between the microstructure and the macroscopic properties of solids are, in essence, what the materials science is all about. This is best represented by the “materials science triangle”: synthesis-microstructure-properties. 

Materials engineering, on the other hand, is concerned with the design, fabrication, and testing of engineering materials. Such materials must fulfill simultaneously the dimensional properties, quality control, and economic requirements. Several manufacturing steps may be involved: (1) primary fabrication, such as solidification or vapor deposition of homogeneous or composite materials; (2) secondary fabrication, including shaping and microstructural control by operations such as mechanical working, machining, sintering, joining and heat treatment and (3) testing, which measures the degree of reliability of a processed part, destructively or non-destructively. 

Because the science of materials branches into other fields of study, the department offers joint fields of study in collaboration with other departments. A degree specializing in electronic materials is offered which provides a broad-based background in materials science, with the opportunity to specialize in semiconducting materials used in electronic and optoelectronic devices. The program incorporates several courses in electrical engineering in addition to those in the materials science curriculum. 

A joint major field, chemistry/materials science, is offered to students enrolled in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (College of Letters and Science). Several courses in the undergraduate curriculum also play an important role in the manufacturing engineering program. 

The graduate program allows for specialization in one of the following fields: ceramics and ceramic processing, electronic and optical materials, and structural materials. 

Message From Chair

Yu Huang

Greetings and welcome to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). I encourage you to explore our recently revamped Web Site which is designed to provide detailed information on our academic and research programs.

The MSE department is currently comprised of 16 ‘core’ faculty whose primary affiliation is in MSE. In addition, there are 12 faculty who hold joint appointments. These faculty have research interests that are closely connected to the field of materials science and engineering. They include faculty from Bioengineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. This blend of faculty provides a stimulating environment for interdisciplinary research and education. Our undergraduate and graduate students benefit through interactions with internationally renowned faculty who have received many honors and awards from the scientific and engineering communities.

The department is growing –our undergraduate and graduate student populations are at all-time highs. Currently, we have over 100 undergraduate students and nearly 100 graduate students in the department. While there are a number of explanations for this growth, we believe that the linking of materials science with the important challenges in world today – energy, environment, communications, health and infrastructure – is the most significant reason and will continue to be so in the years ahead. We look forward to future growth in our student populations.

The cornerstone of MSE at UCLA has been our leading-edge research programs and here, too, we have reached unprecedented levels in research funding. This growth stems from the continuity of the robust research programs of the established faculty combined with the developing programs of the younger faculty in the department. We have received substantial levels of research funding from DOE, NSF, NIST, NASA, DOD as well as from other federal, state and industrial sources. Some of the most active research areas include energy harvesting and storage, solar cells, materials for clean energy, micro/nano electronic devices, optoelectronics, graphene, nanowires, bio-inspired nanostructured materials, electroactive materials, nanocomposites, multifunctional materials, novel materials for infrastructure repair and retrofit, and archaeological materials. In support of these activities, MSE has established state-of-the-art resources in materials processing and characterization to facilitate research and provide hands-on training to our students. Our department is well positioned to develop materials science and materials engineering innovations to benefit society across a broad range of areas.

Enjoy your visit and please feel free to contact us for further information.

Yu Huang
Professor and Department Chair

Mission Statement

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering ­ faculty, students, and alumni ­ fosters a collegial atmosphere to produce:

(i) highly qualified students through an educational program that cultivates excellence;

(ii) novel and highly innovative research that advances basic and applied knowledge in materials, and;

(iii) effective interactions with the external community through educational outreach, industrial collaborations, and service activities.

The mission statement provides a framework for the department members to contribute to the success and well-being of the department and the field of materials science and engineering. Our areas of focus are our students, our research, and our interactions with the external community. The department achievements and activities are based on these components and this report details our efforts to support the mission statement principles.