It is an exciting time to be doing Materials Science and Engineering. We are developing new materials-based technologies to address a number of the grand challenges facing society, and mitigate myriad problems stemming from humanity’s needs and activities.

Among the most pressing problems are climate change, exacerbated by our continued burning of fossil fuels. Ongoing research by our faculty, adjuncts and affiliates seeks to develop new materials for improved, alternative energy harvesting and storage, and mitigate risks associated with existing approaches.

Another crucial issue facing us is sustainability. Pioneering work being carried out by our faculty seeks to exploit modified forms of wood – a renewable resource – in applications requiring optical transparency, good thermal insulation, and strength to mass ratios exceeding those of most metal alloys.

A third challenge is meeting the needs of the data revolution. A possible solution is based upon achieving practical quantum computing; doing so will require solving a number of materials issues involving decoherence. Our faculty and their associates are poised to address some of these issues through work being carried out here and at nearby government laboratories, and through the establishment of the new Quantum Technology Center.

These are only a small sample of the problems we seek to address through the broad spectrum of research being carried out in our Department, and in collaborations with other institutions. Other examples range from artificial materials for improved bio-sensing, to materials for improved fuel cells, to coatings for mitigating degradation of cultural heritage objects.

The future is… Materials.