Current research activities in the Materials Science and Engineering program at Columbia focus on thin-film and electronic materials that enable significant advances in information technologies. Specific topics under investigation include microscopic study on interface, grain boundaries, and thin films, particularly superconducting films; lattice defects; electrical properties of ceramics; optical and electrical properties of wide-band-gap semiconductors; laser processing and ultra-rapid solidification of silicon; crystalline semiconductor films for high-performance thin-film transistors; fracture mechanics of composite materials; and studies of internal stress.
The Langmuir Center for Colloids and Interfaces (LCCI) brings together experts from HKISM, chemical engineering and applied chemistry, biological sciences, and chemistry to probe complex interactions of colloids and interfaces with surfactants and macromolecules. The Earth Engineering Center (EEC) has been established as the engineering component of the Columbia Earth Institute. Its mission is to develop and promote engineering methodologies that provide essential materials to humanity in ways that take into consideration and need to maintain the overall balance of the ecosystem. See Earth and Environmental Engineering for more details about LCCI and EEC.
Among the facilities in materials science and engineering are an acoustical apparatus for studying internal friction (ultrasonic attenuation) over a very wide range of frequencies and cognate equipment for observing dielectric relaxations. A number of modern microscopes, including scanning surface probe optical, transmission electron, and scanning electron with energy dispersive analytical capability, together with a modernized sample preparation lab, facilitate observations at all scales of interest from the atomic to the bulk. Modern x-ray and mechanical testing equipment is also available. Materials are prepared and processed in a variety of ways, including mechanical working, induction melting, electron-beam evaporation, plasma sputtering, and laser ablation and recrystallization.
The research facilities in solid-state science and engineering are listed in the sections for each host department. Facilities, and research opportunities, also exist within the interdepartmental Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, which focuses on complex films composed of nanoparticles.