University of California, Riverside

Materials Science and Engineering



Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is concerned with the creation of materials with novel properties and their use in a variety of fields ranging from ultra-fast computer chips and high-efficiency solar cells to high-powered jets, and even beauty products. Today, engineering innovations are increasingly dependent on breakthroughs in materials at the micro- and nanometer scale. Students in MSE acquire a solid background in the basic sciences and in the engineering of materials, with hands-on laboratory experience in nano-scale materials characterization and processing. This program prepares graduates for a variety of careers in fields such as nanotechnology, electronics, computing, the biomedical, automotive and aerospace industries, as well as government agencies and research laboratories.

Multiple fellowships are available for new MSE graduate student applicants!

Research Highlights of MS&E Faculty

Professor Mathaudhu to receive the NORM AUGUSTINE AWARD for Outstanding Achievement in
Engineering Communications

Dr. Suveen Mathaudhu

"Named to receive the Augustine Award for his compelling and innovative approach of engaging children, young people, and the general public with a better understanding of real science and technology by use of pop culture and other nontraditional means of communicating excitement about STEM."

UCR Today Story

MSE faculty Suveen Mathaudhu on the Science of Superheroes

Mathaudhu   Suveen Mathaudhu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and expert on the science of superheroes.

Prof. Mathaudhu talks about the super materials behind great comic book characters with NPR Member Station KPCC. Please click here to for the entire interview. 

Fall 2014 New Graduate Student Cohort


MSE Welcomes 17 New Graduate Students!

F14 CohortFrom top left: Dr. Ludwig Bartels, Andrew Chen, Chad Warren, Daniel Kosilla, Darren Dewitt, Devin Coleman, Sina Shahrezaei, Ece Aytan, Gardenia Rodriguez, Dr. Javier Garay
From bottom left: David Barroso, Fei Gu, Ariana Nguyen, Pan Xia
MSE Orientation Session 2
                               From left: Siyu Zhang, Dante O'Hara, Daisy Patino, Christian Roach
                               Not pictured: Xiaoxiong Ding, Hadi Maghsoudiganjeh



MSE Welcomes Two New Faculty!

The MSE Program is proud to announce the recent hire of two new joint faculty members, Suveen Mathaudhu and Brian Wong, to start in the 2014/2015 academic year.


Suveen Mathaudhu, Ph. D.

Lorenzo MangoliniProf. Mathaudhu serves as an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Materials Science and Engineering Program, where he studies the underpinning mechanisms that will make metallic materials and composites lighter and stronger.  He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2006.  There, he studied “top-down” processing methods, such as severe plastic deformation, and “bottom-up” processing methods, such as powder consolidation to produce bulk nanoscrystalline and metastable metals for structural and defense applications.  He subsequently served as an ORISE post-doctoral Fellow and then a Staff Scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory from 2006-2010.  From 2010 - 2014, he was the Program Manager for the Synthesis and Processing of Materials at the U.S. Army Research Office, and also, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at North Carolina State University.  He is active in several technical societies, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the Materials Research Society and ASM International.  He is also an expert on the science of superheroes as depicted in comic books and their associated movies, and frequently speaks and consults on this subject.  


Bryan Wong Ph.D.

Bryan Wong

Prof. Wong serves as an Assistant Professor in the Chemical and Environmental Department and the Materials Science and Engineering Program, where he studies the development and application of theoretical tools to calculate, understand. and rationally design functional materials- working closely with experimentalists during each step. The ultimate motivation of his research is to accurately predict the properties of multifunctional materials – either previously synthesized or yet to be made – largely using first-principles calculation techniques. Of particular interest are technologically important problems in energy generation and conversion, especially those requiring an accurate understanding of electron dynamics. Examples of techniques and systems that are currently studied in his group include time-dependent density functional theory for photovoltaic materials, electron transport in chromophore-functionalized carbon nanosystems, optoelectronic effects in core-shell semiconductor nanowires, and large-scale, first-principles calculations for predicting growth and electronic properties of nanomaterials.  Prof. Wong received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in 2007.  After graduation, he was employed by Sandia National Labs as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff for the Nanoelectronics and Nanophotonics Group.  He has also held the position of Assistant Professor at Drexel University in the Department of Chemistry.  


 Research Highlights of MS&E Faculty




NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights

$18 million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights
The EFRI 2-DARE project led by Alexander Balandin at the University of California, Riverside, will focus on a new class of ultra-thin film materials, termed van der Waals materials, and the synthesis of new structures with them. Credit: Mahesh Neupane, Roger Lake, and Alexander Balandin Graphene, a form of carbon in which a single layer of atoms forms a two-dimensional, honeycomb crystal lattice, conducts electricity and heat efficiently and interacts with light in unusual ways. These properties have led to worldwide efforts in exploring its use in electronics, photonics and many other applications.

Rapid advances in graphene research during the last decade have suggested tantalizing possibilities for other two-dimensional materials, each of which might have distinct and useful properties.

To investigate the promise of 2-D layered materials beyond graphene, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Office of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) recently awarded grants totaling close to $18 million. NSF collaborated closely with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), which is planning to invest an additional $10 million through its Basic Research Initiative.

Over the next four years, nine teams involving a total of 42 researchers at 18 institutions will pursue transformative research in the area of 2-D atomic-layer research and engineering (2-DARE).

EFRI 2-DARE researchers will explore fundamental materials properties, synthesis and characterization, predictive modeling techniques and scalable fabrication and manufacturing methods to create new devices for photonics, electronics, sensors and energy harvesting. They also will investigate forming such devices on flexible, transparent and conformal substrates.

Alexander Balandin of the University of California, Riverside (UCR), will lead the project "Novel Switching Phenomena in Atomic Heterostructures for Multifunctional Applications" (1433395) in collaboration with Alexander Khitun of UCR, Roger Lake of UCR, and Tina Salguero of the University of Georgia.

The EFRI 2-DARE researchers will seek out 2-D layered materials and systems that offer enhanced and new capabilities in thermal storage, thermoelectric performance, gas adsorption and other areas. The rich variety of properties these materials and systems offer potentially can be engineered on demand.

Read the full story here...



Bryan Wong receives R&D 100 award for developing triplet-harvesting plastic scintillators

Widely recognized as the “Oscars of Invention”, the R&D 100 Awards identify and celebrate the top technology products of the year. Past winners have included sophisticated testing equipment, innovative new materials, chemistry breakthroughs, biomedical products, consumer items, and high-energy physics. The R&D 100 Awards spans industry, academia, and government-sponsored research.

Sandia National Laboratories’ Triplet-Harvesting Plastic Scintillators (THPS) directly address these limitations by controlling all aspects of the detector response through specially designed light-harvesting dopants. These dopants generate controllable amounts of new luminescence that adds to the intrinsic light-yield response of the host material. Compared to existing materials, the THPS offer a 30% improvement in brightness, significantly faster timing response and unprecedented optical discrimination capabilities. The cost is also nearly 10 times less than the closest competing material. They enable, for the first time, the extraction of vital diagnostic information from mixed radiation fields.

The Triplet-Harvesting Plastic Scintillators (THPS) Development Team 
Patrick Feng, Principal Developer, Sandia National Laboratories
Mark D. Allendorf, Sandia National Laboratories
Mitchell R. Anstey, Sandia National Laboratories
F. Patrick Doty, Sandia National Laboratories
Michael E. Foster, Sandia National Laboratories
Khalid Hattar, Sandia National Laboratories
Ralph Page, Sandia National Laboratories
Kanai Shah, Radiation Monitoring Devices Inc.
Edgar van Loef, Radiation Monitoring Devices Inc.
Bryan M. Wong, Univ. of California, Riverside

Read the full article here 



 Research Highlights of MS&E Graduate Students


Using sand to improve battery performance

From left, (b) unpurified sand, (c) purified sand, and (d) vials of unpurified sand, purified sand, and nano silicon.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have created a lithium ion battery that outperforms the current industry standard by three times. The key material: sand. Yes, sand.

"This is the holy grail -- a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes," said Zachary Favors, a Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Student working with Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan, both Materials Science and Engineering professors at UC Riverside.

The idea came to Favors six months ago. He was relaxing on the beach after surfing in San Clemente, Calif. when he picked up some sand, took a close look at it and saw it was made up primarily of quartz, or silicon dioxide.

His research is centered on building better lithium ion batteries, primarily for personal electronics and electric vehicles. He is focused on the anode, or negative side of the battery. Graphite is the current standard material for the anode, but as electronics have become more powerful graphite's ability to be improved has been virtually tapped out.

Researchers are now focused on using silicon at the nanoscale, or billionths of a meter level as a replacement for graphite. The problem with nanoscale silicon is that it degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities.

Favors set out to solve both these problems. He researched sand to find a spot in the United States where it is found with a high percentage of quartz. That took him to the Cedar Creek Reservoir, east of Dallas, where he grew up.

Sand in hand, he came back to the lab at UC Riverside and milled it down to the nanometer scale, followed by a series of purification steps changing its color from brown to bright white, similar in color and texture to powdered sugar.

After that, he ground salt and magnesium, both very common elements found dissolved in sea water into the purified quartz. The resulting powder was then heated. With the salt acting as a heat absorber, the magnesium worked to remove the oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon.

The Ozkan team was pleased with how the process went. And they also encountered an added positive surprise. The pure nano-silicon formed in a very porous 3-D silicon sponge like consistency. That porosity has proven to be the key to improving the performance of the batteries built with the nano-silicon.

The improved performance could mean expanding the expected lifespan of silicon-based electric vehicle batteries up to 3 times or more, which would be significant for consumers, considering replacement batteries cost thousands of dollars. For cell phones or tablets, it could mean having to recharge every three days, instead of every day.

The findings were just published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Now, the Ozkan team is trying to produce larger quantities of the nano-silicon beach sand and is planning to move from coin-size batteries to pouch-size batteries that are used in cell phones.

The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies. The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for inventions reported in the research paper.




News Highlights 

Pressure Cooking to Improve Electric Car Batteries

By creating nanoparticles with controlled shape, engineers believe smaller, more powerful and energy efficient batteries can be built.  

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have redesigned the component materials of the battery in an environmentally friendly way to solve some of these problems. By creating nanoparticles with a controlled shape, they believe smaller, more powerful and energy efficient batteries can be built. By modifying the size and shape of battery components, they aim to reduce charge times as well.

“This is a critical, fundamental step in improving the efficiency of these batteries,” said David Kisailus, an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering and lead researcher on the project.  Link to UCR News


The annual rankings by Leiden University in the Netherlands ranked UC Riverside's programs in engineering and natural sciences 10th in the world, ahead of institutions such as Princeton, Yale, and Caltech. The Leiden rankings objectively measure scientific impact based on research citations and collaboration worldwide.Link to UCR News


Professor Co-edits Book on Graphene

Alexander Balandin co-edits and co-authors a chapter in the book about the novel synthetic material

A University of California, Riverside professor of Materials Science and Engineering has co-edited a book about innovative technologies using graphene.

Alexander A. Balandin, who is also the founding chair of the materials science and engineering program at UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, co-edited the book “Innovative Graphene Technologies: Evaluation and Applications, Volume 2,” with Atul Tiwari, a research faculty member at the University of Hawaii. It was published bySmithers Rapra Publishing.

Balandin has also contributed a chapter on thermal properties and applications of graphene, which was co-authored with Denis Nika, an associate professor and chair of the physics department in Moldova State University. The unique heat conduction properties of graphene were discovered at UCR. This year, professor Balandin will receive the MRS Medal for his experimental and theoretical work on thermal properties of graphene. Link to UCR News Release


Dean Reza Abbaschian Honored at Materials Science and Technology Conference
Link to UCR News Release

Five UC Riverside researchers are part of $40 million project to develop materials and structures to enable more energy efficient computers and cell phones


News Archive

MSE Building Opened January 2011

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Bourns College of Engineering
307Materials Science & Engineering Building

Tel: (951) 827-3392
Fax: (951) 827-3188x

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