Materials research at Rice encompasses many areas including biomaterials, coatings and thin films, optical materials, energy storage and conversion, carbon nanomaterials and composites and the list goes on. The Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering is dedicated to expanding the boundaries of knowledge in materials and producing the materials scientists and engineers of the future.
Rice University has a long history of excellence in materials science research, building on the 1985 Nobel-Prize-winning discovery of the BuckyBall. Research in materials reaches across departments in the Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Rice, with collaboration spanning disciplines. Here are the areas of research MSNE faculty focus on.
The Additive Lab (Zack Cordero)
The Additive Lab at Rice University is developing techniques for printing metal parts with complex shapes and dialed-in microstructures. Some of the 3D-printing technologies that they are working on include methods for printing bulk, nanocrystalline parts; nanocasting techniques for preparing metal parts with submicron dimensions; and methods for printing specimens for the high-throughput characterization of grain-boundary structure-property relationships.
Ajayan Research Group
This research focuses on the materials science and engineering of technologies that will impact our society in the future. Energy generation and storage, chemical sensors, nanoelectronics, flexible displays, high performance composites, membrane technologies, coatings, and biomedical technologies are some of the broad areas covered. With collaborators at Rice and with institutions around the world, The Ajayan group is involved in a multi-disciplinary team effort with the goal of developing functional nanomaterials for a rich variety of applications.
The Lou Group interests lie in the areas of nanomaterial synthesis, nanomechanical characterization and nanodevice fabrication for energy, environmental and biomedical applications.
Egap Research Group
The Egap group is an interdisciplinary research team that is interested in developing novel and well–defined macromolecular structures, elucidating structure-property relationships, and engineering new technologies that address challenges in human health and alternative energy. They use tools from synthetic organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and biomedical engineering to address applications ranging from biological imaging, diagnostics, and delivery of therapeutics, to photovoltaic and magnetic devices. Broadly, they are interested in molecular design and synthesis, self-assembly of polymeric nanomaterials and engineering multifunctional materials with highly controlled architecture.
Mesoscale Materials Modeling Group (Ming Tang)
The Mesocale Materials Modeling Group is interested in microstructures, their kinetic evolution and implications for performance in a wide range of systems from energy storage materials, structural materials, 2D materials to soft matters. They develop and apply a suite of modeling techniques to perform numerical experiments, utilize parallel computing to accelerate simulations, and develop theory to interpret and generalize simulation results. The ultimate goal is to use modeling to inform and guide the design, fabrication and manipulation of mesoscale structures in both structural and functional materials.
Thomas Research Group
The Thomas group is focused on the development of novel polymers and polymer-based composite materials with unusual optical, mechanical, and electronic properties. The research is highly interdisciplinary with members having backgrounds in materials science, chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering. Their current main areas of interest include photonics, phononics, mechanical properties of complex materials, and polymer structure and morphology.
Yakobson Research Group
The Yakobson group does research in the theory and modeling of structure, kinetics, and properties of materials derived from macroscopic and fundamental molecular interactions. This includes extensive work on the physical properties of nanotubes, in particular their electro-mechanics, and recently with graphene and graphane.
Barrera Research Group
The Barrera group does research on Interface studies and processing of composites, coatings, and thin films. Development of new materials systems that take advantage of the unique properties of fullerenes and nanotubes. Research on new materials developments in nanotechnology. Formation of hybrid nanotube materials and the development of fully integrated nanotube composite
Dr. Zhu and his Emerging Quantum and Ultrafast Activity Laboratory (EQUAL) engineer materials at the atomic level with light. He is interested in the interplay among the lattice structures, electrons and electromagnetic waves to create quantum behavior that typically only exist in extreme conditions with natural compounds. These artificial materials potentially serve in robust information technology and sensitive detectors beyond the classical limit.