Stronger. Faster. Lighter. Smaller. Better.
Materials scientists and engineers are pioneers: We discover new materials and take existing ones to new heights. Your success as a materials scientist or engineer is rooted in developing a fundamental understanding of our pioneering concepts.
Our fundamental concepts for the 21st century include the cutting edge fundamentals: how physics, chemistry and thermodynamics dictate the structure of materials at the nano, micro and mesoscale; how the structure of material across these length scales determines its properties; and how to economically synthesize and process these materials to give them the best structures for the right properties to address a technological problem. Your understanding of our fundamental concepts will help you develop the materials of our future.
The toolkit of a 21st-century materials science engineer:
Materials scientists and engineers use an array of advanced tools and techniques in our quest for better materials. As a student at UW-Madison, you’ll have many opportunities to use some of the most advanced tools available today to materials scientists and engineers. They include:
- Atomic resolution microscopes — these incredibly high-power microscopes allow you to “see” atoms and nanometer features in materials that are impossible to see using standard light microscopes. Using atomic resolution microscopes, you’ll be able to map out the composition and structure of materials, atom by atom.
- Analytical instruments — you’ll learn to handle tools that use x-rays, electrons, neutron scattering and spectroscopy to determine the structure and composition of materials.
- Mechanical, electrical and optical testing instrumentation —these tools allow us to characterize the properties of a material related to its structure and processing.
- Computer-based modeling software — we use advanced software to simulate and understand the characteristics of a material virtually. You’ll use the software to design new materials and predict their behaviors before they’re even made.
- Human ingenuity — the ultimate driver in our quest to invent, discover and engineer ever more advanced materials.
Everyone uses and consumes materials of all kinds: metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, semiconductors, and superconductors. Materials scientists and engineers create new materials and develop processes to improve existing materials to suit the needs of everyday life. These materials can help conserve energy, make engines run more efficiently, improve high-resolution TVs, make faster computers, improve sensors for automobiles, and create environmental controls. The study and development of materials is one of the most rapidly growing areas in all of science and engineering.
Materials science and engineering is both a foundational discipline in engineering and a branch of science at the intersection of physics, chemistry, biology, and related disciplines. We offer graduate degrees in materials science and engineering, with a primary focus on PhD students, who perform cutting-edge independent research with the support of their advisors and thesis committee members.