Research Areas and Associated Faculty
As the world-wide demand for energy is expected to continue to increase at a rapid rate, it is critical that improved technologies for sustainably producing, converting and storing energy are developed. Materials are key roadblocks to improved performance in a number of important energy technologies including energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors and energy conversion through solar cells, fuel cells, and thermoelectric devices. The University of Texas at Austin is an internationally recognized leader in the development of clean energy materials.
Nanomaterials consist of microstructural features (grains, domains, phases, precipitates, etc.) that range in size from 1 – 100 nm. At this scale, many materials exhibit properties that differ from their bulk-sized analogues. The ability to tune the properties of materials by controlling size allows nanomaterials to have applications in a broad range of fields including optics, magnetic devices, catalysis, microelectronics, pharmaceutics, and energy conversion and storage technologies. The University of Texas at Austin has strong expertise in the synthesis, characterization, property measurements, and performance evaluation of nanomaterials as well as devices based on nanomaterials.
Structural materials encompass materials whose primary purpose is to transmit or support a force. Applications can be in transportation (aircraft and automobiles), construction (buildings and roads), or in components used for body protection (helmets and body armor), energy production (turbine blades), or other smaller structures such as those used in microelectronics Structural materials can be metallic, ceramic, polymeric or a composite between these materials.
Electronic, Magnetic and Optical Materials
Lying at the interface between chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering, the study of electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of materials has broad applications to microelectronic devices, communications, phononic and photonic devices, recording, and others.
Polymers and Biomaterials
Research on polymers at UT Austin focuses on electronic, structural and chemical properties for applications in microelectronics, low cost solar materials, biomass, structural composites, and membrane materials. Biomaterials research includes the study of biomaterials interfaces and materials for controlled drug release.
Computational Materials Science
Computer simulations are used increasing in Materials Science and Engineering to both develop new materials and to better explain the properties of existing materials. Tools such as molecular dynamics simulations, density functional theory, and finite element modeling are used to understand atomic and crystal structure, phase and microstructure evolution, and their correlations with electronic, transport, and mechanical properties.