Curriculum in Applied Sciences and Engineering

Lu-Chang Qin, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies
Richard Goldberg, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies


Nancy L. Allbritton (BME and Chemistry) Signaling in Single Cells, Microfabricated Systems for Cellular Analysis

A. J. Banes (Biomedical Engeneering) Tissue Engineering tendons and ligaments, Cytomechanics, Cell-Cell Communication, Matrix Proteins, Hydrogels

Joseph M. DeSimone (Chemistry) Polymeric Materials Synthesis

Dorothy Erie (Chemistry) Physical and Biological Chemistry, Structure and Function of Transcription Processes

Michael Falvo (Physics and Astronomy) Mechanics and Friction of Nanoscale Materials, Nanoscale Electromechanical Systems (NEMS), Scanning Probe Microscopy and Nanomanipulation Forces and Mechanics of Nanobiological Systems

Greg Forest (Mathematics) Flow and Structure of Complex Polymeric Fluids, Weakly Compressible Transport Phenomena, Solitons and Optical Fiber Applications, Inverse Problems for Material Characterization, Modeling of Transport in Multiphase Porous Media

Barry Lentz (Biochemistry and Biophysics) Biomembrane Structural Features in the Role of Platelet Membranes in Blood Coagulation and the Involvement of Bilayer Microstructures in Cell Membrane Fusion

Wenbin Lin (Chemistry) Nonlinear Optical, Supramolecular and Chiral Porous Materials, Asymmetric Catalysis, Chiral Sensing and Separations

Jianping Lu (Physics and Astronomy) Theoretical Studies of Materials

Laurie E. McNeil (Physics and Astronomy) Structure-Property Relations, Optical Spectroscopy

Lu-Chang Qin (Physics and Astronomy) Synthesis and Structure of Nanomaterials

Michael Rubinstein (Chemistry) Molecular Models of Polymers

Edward T. Samulski (Chemistry) Liquid Crystals and Liquid Crystal Polymers

Sergei S. Sheiko (Chemistry) Dynamics of Single Molecule on a Surface

Richard Superfine (Physics and Astronomy) Interfacial Ordering of Molecules

Russell Taylor (Computer Science) Advanced Computer Graphics, Data Rendering, Novel Microscopy Instrumentation

Alex Tropsha (Medicinal Chemistry) Biomolecular Informatics, Relationships between Chemical Structures and Their Functional Properties

Frank Tsui (Physics and Astronomy) Synthesis of Artificially Structured Materials

Sean Washburn (Physics and Astronomy) Quantum Transport, Mechanical and Electrical Response.

Yue Wu (Physics and Astronomy) Quasicrystals, Nanocrystals, Nanotubes and Molecular Motion in Polymers

Otto Zhou (Physics and Astronomy) Synthesis, Properties and Applications of Nanomaterials

Associate Professors

Richard Goldberg (Biomedical Engineering) Assistive Technology Devices for People with Disabilities

Nalin Parikh (Physics and Astronomy) Ion Beam Modifications and Analysis

Paul Weinhold (Orthopaedics) Orthopaedic Biomechanics, Vibration Testing of Orthopaedic Tissues and Constructs

The materials science program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an interdisciplinary graduate program that brings together faculty from physics and astronomy, chemistry, and various departments in the health sciences (including dentistry, orthopedics, and biomedical engineering) to engage in research and training in materials science. The primary areas of emphasis in the program are electronic, nano, polymer, and biomaterials. Students pursuing M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in materials science begin their studies with a core curriculum covering the fundamentals of materials, including their structures, surfaces, fabrication, thermodynamics, and materials science laboratory techniques. They continue with elective courses offered by the curriculum or the participating departments as appropriate to their area of research concentration. Graduate students engage in research under the supervision of one of the participating materials science faculty in the Curriculum in Applied Sciences and Engineering.

Research Interests

The four areas of research emphasized in the materials science program are electronic, nano, polymer, and biomaterials. These four areas are not discrete, however, as research projects in electronic polymers, nonlinear optics of polypeptides on surfaces, liquid crystals, and wear in polyethylene artificial joints demonstrate. Individual faculty members may have research interests in more than one of the primary areas, and may collaborate with others to address all four. For detailed information on the graduate program, please contact Professor Lu-Chang Qin at (919) 843-3575, or e-mail

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree requirements include completion of a suitable set of courses, cumulative written comprehensive exams, a preliminary doctoral oral exam, an original research project culminating in a dissertation, and a final oral exam. The M.S. degree requirements include completion of a suitable set of courses, cumulative written comprehensive exams, a research project, and a final oral exam. The general regulations of The Graduate School govern credit hour, residency, and examination requirements.


All graduate students must pass the following courses or appropriate ones approved by the curriculum, or must have passed their equivalents elsewhere: APPL 470, APPL 473, and MTSC 615, 720, 730, and 735. Each student also takes additional courses offered by the curriculum or participating departments, as appropriate for his or her area of study.

Comprehensive Exam

M.S. students must pass three core exams and one specialty exam. Ph.D. students must pass four core exams and two specialty comprehensive exams. Topics for the specialty exams will be research areas represented in the materials science program at UNC–Chapel Hill; core exams cover the fundamental knowledge of materials science. All students are required to complete the comprehensive exam by the second year.

Preliminary Doctoral Oral Exam

Students are required to select a research adviser during the first year in graduate school and a thesis committee before they take the preliminary doctoral exam. To pass the preliminary doctoral oral exam, students must present and successfully defend their Ph.D. research proposal to the thesis committee by the end of the third year.

Facilities and Equipment

Students and faculty in the curriculum have access to the following central facilities located in various departments: NMR (2), computer modeling and computer graphics, confocal microscopy, electron microscopy (SEM, TEM, and STEM), FIB, glass shop, machine shop (2), laser lab, mechanical testing, mass spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction. In addition, a variety of equipment is located in individual research laboratories. This includes equipment for thermal analysis; polymer synthesis; FTIR, UV-Vis, Raman, and photoluminescence spectroscopy; ellipsometry; CVD; MBE; thermal oxidation; AFM; electrical measurements; nonlinear optics; and low temperatures and high pressures. Facilities at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and MCNC in Research Triangle Park are also available.

Fellowships and Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are available to qualified graduate students. The duties of teaching assistants include teaching laboratory sections, assisting in the supervision of advanced laboratories, teaching recitation sections, and grading papers. Summer support is generally available. Research assistantships are also offered.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


410 Systems and Signals (4). Prerequisite, MATH 383. Analysis of linear systems by transform methods to networks, including stability analysis. Survey of numerical methods for network solutions.

420 Introduction to Polymer Chemistry (CHEM 420) (3). See CHEM 420 for description.

421 Synthesis of Polymers (CHEM 421, MTSC 421) (3). See CHEM 421 for description.

422 Physical Chemistry of Polymers (CHEM 422, MTSC 422) (3). See CHEM 422 for description.

423 Intermediate Polymer Chemistry (CHEM 423, MTSC 423) (3). See CHEM 423 for description.

425 Bioelectricity (3). Prerequisites, BIOL 252 and PHYS 351. Quantitative analysis of excitable membrane signals, origin of electrical membrane potentials, propagation, subthreshold stimuli, extracellular fields, membrane biophysics, and electrophysiology of the heart. Design and development of an electrocardiogram analysis system.

430 Digital Signal Processing I (3). Prerequisite, COMP 110 or 116. This is an introduction to methods of automatic computation of specific relevance to biomedical problems. Sampling theory, analog-to-digital conversion, and digital filtering will be explored in depth.

450 Linear Control Theory (3). Prerequisite, MATH 528. Linear control system analysis and design are presented. Frequency and time domain characteristics and stability are studied.

465 Biomedical Instrumentation (4). Prerequisite, PHYS 351. Topics include basic electronic circuit design, analysis of medical instrumentation circuits, physiologic transducers (pressure, flow, bioelectric, temperate, and displacement). This course includes a laboratory where the student builds biomedical devices.

470 Fundamentals of Materials Science (CHEM 470) (3). See CHEM 470 for description.

472 Chemistry and Physics of Electronic Materials Processing (CHEM 472, MTSC 472, PHYS 472) (3). See PHYS 472 for description.

473 Chemistry and Physics of Surfaces (CHEM 473, MTSC 473) (3). See CHEM 473 for description.

480 Microcontroller Applications I (3). Prerequisites, COMP 110 or 116, and PHYS 351. Introduction to digital computers for online, real-time processing and control of signals and systems. Programming analog and digital input and output devices is stressed. Case studies are used for software design strategies in real-time systems.

490 Special Topics (3). Topics vary from semester to semester.

491L Materials Laboratory I (PHYS 491L) (2). See PHYS 491L for description.

492L Materials Laboratory II (PHYS 492L) (2). See PHYS 492L for description.

510 Biomaterials (BMME 510) (3). Prerequisite, BIOL 101 or BMME 589. Chemical, physical engineering, and biocompatibility aspects of materials, devices, or systems for implantation in or interfacing with the body cells or tissues. Food and Drug Administration and legal aspects.

520L Polymer Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 520L) (2). See CHEM 520L for description.

691H Honors Thesis (3). Research honors course. Prior approval needed from the chair or associate chair of the program for topic selection and faculty research mentor. Minimum GPA requirement, written report, and abstract requirements as set forth by the honors program.

692H Honors Thesis (3). Research honors thesis continuation with required GPA, research topic selection with approved faculty mentor. Written abstract and report per honors program guidelines submitted by specific deadlines.

697 Senior Design Project I (2). Prerequisite, APPL 310. Conceptual prelude and preparation to APPL 698, in which the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired during the undergraduate tenure is applied to develop a solution to a real-world problem.

698 Senior Design Project II (4). Prerequisite, APPL 697. Implementation phase of the senior design experience. Students apply the theoretical and practical knowledge they have acquired in their previous seven semesters to the design and implementation of a solution to a real-world problem.


421 Synthesis of Polymers (APPL 421, CHEM 421) (3). See CHEM 421 for description.

422 Physical Chemistry of Polymers (APPL 422, CHEM 422) (3). See CHEM 422 for description.

423 Intermediate Polymer Chemistry (APPL 423, CHEM 423) (3). See CHEM 423 for description.

472 Chemistry and Physics of Electronic Materials Processing (APPL 472, CHEM 472, PHYS 472) (3). See PHYS 472 for description.

473 Chemistry and Physics of Surfaces (APPL 473, CHEM 473) (3). See CHEM 473 for description.

573 Introductory Solid State Physics (PHYS 573) (3). See PHYS 573 for description.

615 Structure of Solids (3). Crystallography, reciprocal lattices, Bloch waves, band structure, electronic wave functions, phonons, thermal expansion. Superlattice structures, including liquid crystals. Overview of properties of ceramic, amorphous, polymeric, and composite materials.

Courses for Graduate Students


715 Visualization in Science (COMP 715, PHYS 715) (3). See COMP 715 for description.

720 Materials Fabrication (3). Permission of the department. Introduction to materials fabrication techniques. Includes single crystal growth, thin film deposition, synthesis of quantum dots and nanotubes/nanowires, dielectric and electron emissive materials, nanocomposites, bioceramics, and energy storage materials.

730 Statistical Thermodynamics (3). Permission of the instructor. Theory of ensembles and interactions in statistical mechanics. Classical and quantum statistics. Applications to simple systems: ideal gas, heat capacity of solids, blackbody radiation, phase transitions.

735 Techniques in Materials Science (3). Permission of the department. Lecture and laboratory in materials analysis techniques, including optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, fluorescence, nuclear magnetic resonance, Raman spectroscopy, thermal analysis, XPS, channeling and RBS.

740 Advanced Biomaterials (BMME 740) (3). See BMME 740 for description.

750 Kinetics, Diffusion, and Phase Transitions of Materials (3). Reaction kinetics in bulk materials. Mass transport, microstructural transformations, and phase transitions in condensed phases. Atom diffusion in solids. Spinodal decomposition.

810 Device Physics and Electronic Properties of Solids (3). Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, MTSC 615, and 730. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Survey of crystal structure, bandstructure, transport. Overview of FETs, heterostructures, light emission, dissipation, noise, integrated circuits, solar cells, and ceramics. Emphasis on physical sources of device behavior.

820 Optical Properties of Solids (3). Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, and PHYS 415. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Reflection, waveguides, nonlinear optics, optical switching, photorefraction, optical storage. Optical coupling to electronic states, device applications, optical computing.

830 Ion–Solid Interactions (3). Prerequisite, APPL 470 or PHYS 573. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Interatomic potentials, range distribution, radiation damage, annealing, secondary defects, analytical techniques, silicon-based devices, implantation in compound semiconductors, and buried layer synthesis. Ion implantation in metals, ceramics, polymers, and biomaterials.

840 New Technologies and Device Architecture (3). Prerequisites, APPL 470 or PHYS 573, MTSC 615, and 730. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisites. Survey of novel and emerging device technologies. Resonant tunneling transistors, HEMT, opto-electronic devices and optical communication and computation, low-temperature electronic, hybrid superconductor devices.

871 Solid State Physics (PHYS 871) (3). See PHYS 871 for description.

872 Solid State Physics (PHYS 872) (3). See PHYS 872 for description.

891 Special Topics in Material Science (1–3). Permission of the department. Current topics in materials science, including electronic and optical materials, polymers, and biomaterials.

992 Master's (Non-Thesis) (3–9).

993 Master's Thesis (3–6). Permission of the department.

994 Doctoral Dissertation (3–9). Permission of the department.