To emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of our program, we offer joint PhD degree programs with participating academic departments. Students must apply and be admitted to a specific academic department (not PRISM). Participants must fulfill departmental and joint degree requirements, including a doctoral thesis related to materials. PRISM does not directly admit graduate students and award degrees at this time.
Eligible departments include:
- Chemical and Biological Engineering
- Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Interested students applying to any materials-related department who elect not to participate or whose department does not participate in the formal joint degree program are encouraged to participate in other PRISM activities supporting graduate education. PRISM research facilities, industrial interaction opportunities, and seminars are open to everyone in the Princeton materials community. Students should discuss their interested with faculty in their department who are PRISM members.
For further information, please contact Sandra Lam.
Chemical and Biological Engineering and Materials Science
The goal of understanding the fundamental behavior of materials and using this knowledge to design materials with tailored functionality drives materials-related research in chemical engineering. The research spans a vast spectrum of materials, from "hard" materials (ceramics, sol-gel materials) to "soft" ones (polymers, colloidal dispersions, molecular coatings), with potential applications ranging from implants in the human body to affordable high-strength composites. Activities range from basic materials synthesis (polymers, high-temperature superconductors) to the study of fundamental phenomena (rheology of complex fluids, structure-property relationships in solids) to materials processing and the fabrication of prototype devices (synthetic bone, hierarchically structured laminates). Chemical and Biological Engineering principles of thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and reaction engineering typically underpin these ongoing projects, augmented by knowledge of structural characterization techniques, modeling and simulation, and fabrication technology.
Between the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and PRISM, we have outstanding facilities for structural characterization of materials, both in real space (TEM, SEM, AFM) and reciprocal space (x-ray, light, electron diffraction); for the rheological and rheo-optical characterization of complex fluids useful in materials processing; and for device prototyping.
Please visit Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering for further information on graduate study and admission.
Chemistry and Materials Science
Chemistry and materials go hand-in-hand in many ways, and materials chemistry is presently one of the most vital and expanding areas in research and education. Truly interdisciplinary research is essential for progress in this area, with the resulting discoveries and insights that such an interdisciplinary approach in science often yields. Research in academic, industrial, and government institutions is directed towards answering fundamental questions in chemistry that may lead to new materials, the application of chemical and materials knowledge for improving the performance of devices and systems, and making possible the technologies and processes of the future. Materials-related research in chemistry at Princeton encompasses many of the diverse new paths this type of research presently embodies.
Our program ranges from theoretical, through basic science, to more applied areas. Research in theoretical materials chemistry includes, for example, the molecular dynamics simulation of materials properties and the electronic structure theory of surfaces, molecular crystals, and conjugated polymers. There are a wide variety of opportunities to conduct research on materials surfaces, including the study of the adsorption and spectroscopy of molecules and chemical reactions on transition-metal surfaces, and the synthesis and characterization of oxide-supported organometallic complexes. There are also research efforts in the assembly of biogenic hard materials, photochemical energy conversion, solar energy conversion and electrochemistry, the synthesis and characterization of solids with exotic electronic and magnetic properties, optoelectronic properties of organic thin films.
The materials chemistry program provides a unique interdisciplinary opportunity for students to pursue their interests in this rapidly advancing field. Students may tailor their program by combining different aspects of education and research in materials and chemistry, and other areas such as electronics, physics, or biology to create their own interdisciplinary specialty.
Please visit Department of Chemistry for further information on graduate study and admission.
Civil and Environmental Engineering and Materials Science
The materials of greatest interest in civil and environmental engineering: Concrete, stone and soil are porous and extremely heterogeneous composites. Therefore, our research efforts are concentrated in four areas: 1) theoretically relating physical properties of composites to their structure and composition; 2) modifying the composition and processing of materials to improve their durability and strength; 3) modeling and measuring transport of fluids in porous media to understand stability of soil, movement of pollutants, and resistance of stone and concrete to environmental attack (for example, by frost, salt and acid rain); 4) large-scale computation for analysis of fluid flow and inelastic deformation in heterogeneous media.
A major goal of our research is to understand prevent deterioration of porous materials. Fundamental research addresses the mechanisms by which environmental agents (such as ice) invade porous materials, exert stresses, and initiate cracking. The resulting insight guides the development of improved materials and processing methods of techniques for preserving or restoring existing structures. A closely related problem is the conservation of art, including sculpture and ancient monuments. In collaboration with conservators in museums and universities here and abroad, materials and methods are being developed for treatment of damaged stone and masonry.
New advances in mid-infrared, optical technologies are being incorporated within environmental engineering research. A main focus in on the development of novel atmospheric instrumentation methods that can be deployed as part of ground-based and aircraft-based field campaigns to better understand air quality and global climate change. In addition, faculty are working on new technologies and methods for deploying sensors and performing flow simulations over urban areas to study heat losses from buildings under varying meteorological conditions and the effect of enhanced building technologies and materials on these losses.
The academic program is flexible so that students can acquire depth in thesis-related areas, such as mechanics or thermodynamics, while meeting general requirements in mathematics and materials.
Please visit Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering for further information on graduate study and admission.
Electrical Engineering and Materials Science
Materials-related research in electrical engineering is predominantly centered on semiconductors. Research in the electronic materials and devices group and the optical and optoelectronic engineering group includes fundamental electronic and structural properties of organic and inorganic semiconductors, crystalline and amorphous semiconductors, new technologies for fabricating nanostructures and for printing large area circuits, and advanced devices for opto- and microelectronics. An extremely wide variety of materials is being researched, spanning from crystalline to amorphous elemental semiconductors and alloys (Si, SiGe, SiGeC), III-V to II-VI compound semiconductors (Ga-, Al- and In- arsenides and nitrides, ZnSe), small molecule to polymer organics, and magnetic materials. Applications and areas of research include the control, or intelligent use, of epitaxy of lattice mismatched materials to create novel structures, device engineering and nanostructure devices for ultrafast electronics, and high-capacity storage; macroelectronics for inexpensive, large area backplane electronics and displays; solar power; light-emitting devices; optoelectronic integrated circuits; and experimental and theoretical aspects of solid-state physics.
The materials-related facilities comprise several clean rooms, specialized growth laboratories (several III-V and organic MBEs, chemical vapor deposition), device fabrication laboratories (e-beam, photo- and nanoimprint lithography, etchers, and evaporators), materials analysis laboratories (surface/interface spectroscopies), and microscopy laboratories (SEM, STM, AFM).
Please visit Department of Electrical Engineering for information on graduate study and admission.
Geosciences and Materials Science
A wide range of materials are of interest in geosciences including silicates and other minerals, melts and glasses, heterogeneous composites (i.e. rocks) and synthetic analogues. Broadly speaking, materials research in geosciences is concerned with understanding the physical and chemical behavior of geological materials under a wide range of conditions encountered from the Earth's crust to the deep interior. Topics of current interest include crystal structures, phase transformations, phase equilibria, equations of state, rheological properties, diffusion, melting and melt structure, and mineral surfaces. These investigations have a variety of applications to the disciplines of mineralogy, mineral physics, petrology, structural geology, geophysics, and geochemistry.
Using static and dynamic compression techniques (e.g. diamond anvil cells and laser sources), we can compress materials to pressure and temperature conditions that span the range of those encountered in Earth and terrestrial planets. The integration of high-pressure geomaterials investigations with geophysical observations enables us to develop a better understanding of the structure, composition, and evolution of the crust, mantle, and core of the Earth and other planets. More generally, application of high pressure can be used to create new materials with novel properties such as ultra-hard materials or hydrogen storage compounds.
Facilities for characterization of geological materials in PRISM and the Department of Geosciences include optical spectroscopy (IR, Raman, Brillouin), X-ray diffraction, and microscopy (SEM, TEM, AFM). We also access a range of national user facilities, including synchrotrons and high-powered laser facilities for advanced materials-related research.
Please visit Department of Geosciences for further information on graduate study and admission.
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Materials Science
The overarching emphasis of the activity in mechanical and aerospace engineering is on materials in thermostructural systems. Application areas include aerospace, power generation, propulsion, automotive, robotics, and power electronics. The materials comprise of ceramics, metals, intermetallics, polymers and their composites, which are important because of their light weight, ability to withstand high temperature, heat-dissipation qualities, and tribology. They include performance-enhancing films, multilayers, and coatings of materials such as diamond, oxides, nitrides, carbides, and so on. They embrace ferroelectric and ferromagnetic materials that facilitate the design and implementation of smart systems.
Studies of the mechanical, thermal, and acoustic behavior of these materials represent a major educational and research emphasis and include deformation, fracture, fatigue, thermal conduction, adhesion, actuation, and sound absorption. Fabrication and processing, especially their intelligent control through modeling, simulation, and sensor integration, are of comparable interest.
System requirements dictated by affordability considerations provide the motivation for the program. These systems include ultralight structures made from cellular metals; thermal protection concepts for high-temperature components and systems; heat dissipation by means of micro heatpipes, jets, and phase change materials; integrated micromaterial structures such as electronic circuits and microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS).
Please visit Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering for further information on graduate study and admission.