CHEM 560

Current Trends in Materials Science

Instructor: Natia Frank

Content: The purpose of the course is to introduce students to some of the grand challenges in materials chemistry through a discussion style format.  We will use concepts in structure and bonding to understand challenges in the design, synthesis, and characterization of current materials in chemistry. An emphasis is placed on small molecules and polymers as opposed to solid-state materials and nanoparticles, though often the boundary between these types of materials is vague. In addition, topics have been selected with a focus on technologies relevant to alternative energy and decreased power demand, however, students are encouraged to submit additional topics for the course. In addition to the knowledge gained through exposure to various topics of relevance to materials chemistry, students will develop skillsets for critical evaluation of published work in the field, formal presentations, and participating in scientific discussion.

The course will cover current topics in materials chemistry including: solar cells, hydrogen storage, photocatalytic water splitting, graphene and carbon allotropes for charge storage, organic electronics and devices, light emitting diodes, electrochromics, spintronics, single molecule and chain magnets, contrast agents in medicine, biomaterials and biosensors.

Course Materials: This course is a survey of selected topics in materials chemistry relevant to energy and environmental policy. Materials for the course are comprised of journal articles from leading journals across the disciplines of chemistry and general science. Additional resources associated with each topic are listed on the website, along with the primary reading material.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the course, the students should be able to:

  • Describe current trends in materials chemistry and their relevance to society
  • Describe the chemistry and current technical (practical) challenges in each field covered.
  • Prepare and deliver a presentation on a topic in the course
  • Carry out thoughtful discourse using the ideas of structure and bonding to understand and address challenges in materials chemistry
  •  Identify several technologies being developed for alternative energy, electronics, and biomedicinal technologies.

Expectations: The format of the course will be literature-based, with one topic covered each week. The class will meet twice a week on Monday and Thursday morning, and will consist of a weekly topic that will span at least two lecture periods. The Monday class will involve discussion of the background relevant to the topic, and the Thursday class will include a presentation of a high-impact publication in the field, chosen by the presenter. The paper chosen should be sent by email as a pdf at least one week prior to the presentation, and will be available on the course website.

Assessment: Final evaluation of performance in the class will be based on (i) participation and contributions made to discussion, and (ii) in-class presentation.