Materials Science and Engineering

Two mechanical engineering students working on an item in a lab

Materials science and engineering (MSE) is a cross-disciplinary field that underlies all the engineering disciplines. Most advances in technology have followed advances in materials.

  • New metallic alloys, lead to more efficient improved jet engines and lighter weight alloys for automobiles. 
  • Improved polymers underlie the ten-fold increase in tire life since the first balloon tires. 
  • New ceramic materials are the basis of the fiber-optics communication industry. Flat screen TVs are possible because of advances in electronic, polymeric and ceramic materials.

The Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) program at the University of Cincinnati is at the frontier of the materials research including fundamental polymer characterization methods, synthesis of polymer composites, surface science and adhesive thin films, nano transducers and sensors, surface-engineered alloys, nanostructured materials, energy devices, and nanotechnology applications in biomedicine. The faculty consists of experienced educators prominent in diversified materials-science fields including seconadary appointments held by professors from other engineering programs and from Colleges of Arts & Science and Medicine. Additionally, UC offers undergraduate minors in Materials Engineering and Nano Engineering, with several major lab courses that focus on hands-on materials engineering skills.

UC offers graduate degrees of MS and Ph.D with focuses on polymers, metallurgy, and ceramics. Core and elective courses range from fundamentals to newly developed courses on emerging materials. These are rigorous classes covering all materials science disciplines such as Diffraction Theory, Advanced Thermodynamics, Phase Transformation, Fundamentals of Polymer Science, Physical Properties of Solids, and Soft matter.

About the Industry

Materials have been traditionally classified as metals, ceramics and polymers based on the atomic-level bonding. Emerging materials, however, often employ more complex structures, such as metal matrix composites and ceramics toughened with polymers. Properties of these new materials depend not only on atomic-level bonding, but on larger-scale structures in the range 10 – 100 nm, which has led to a new discipline called nano-materials engineering.

Soft materials are another emerging class of materials that includes gels, colloids, liquids, foams, and coatings. The soft materials approach uses the tools of organic chemistry to synthesize new artificial materials that often mimic the properties of bone, skin and other biological structures. Soft materials typically display properties that are distinctively different from those of classic bulk materials. So called smart materials, for example, are environmentally responsive such as self-darkening sunglasses and self-cleaning windows.

Electronic materials are classified broadly by their conductivity: conductors, semiconductors, and insulators. Other important electronic properties include superconductivity, ferroelectricity and photoelectricity. The modern microelectronics revolution is built on manipulation of the electronic and magnetic properties of materials. Equally important are optically responsive polymers used to create the masks used in the semiconductor processing industry.