Gilbert Group


MSE 410: Theory and Processing of Conventional and Nano-Structured Devices (F2021)

This is a senior elective class which was cross-listed as a graduate course. The focus of this class was to discuss the various tools and techniques to fabricate and characterize materials and devices on the nanoscale. In approximately 2-week blocks, this class covered: vacuum systems, physical and chemical vapor deposition, lithography, microscopy, electronic and magnetic measurements, spectroscopy, neutrons and X-rays. Emphasis was placed on tools and techniques available at the University of Tennessee, a fundamental understanding of their operation, and a practical understanding of the limitations of these techniques. In addition to classroom lectures, students assembled a simple UHV system from the ground up and diagramed a research growth chamber. Also, through Socratic discussion, the class designed a collection of growth and characterization chambers for the growth of quantum materials for an NSF Center proposal.

MSE 514: Graduate Electricity, Magnetism and Optics (F2020)

This is a core graduate course for incoming graduate students, focusing on the fundamentals of functional materials. To accurately describe the electronic, magnetic and optical properties of materials, the course will start with a "crash course" on quantum mechanics, understanding the wave nature of electrons and electron spin and orbital moment. This foundation is developed through the tools of solid state physics to arrive at band structure theory. These principles are expanded to include electron interactions, optical and transport properties, and finally collective effects (magnetism and superconductivity). It is a demanding course which provides a critical understanding which addresses why materials behave the way that they do.

MSE 120: Impact of Materials on Society (S2020, S2021, S2022)

This is a new course at UTK, modeled after a similar course developed at the University of Florida by Prof. Kevin Jones. The course seeks to highlight how materials science and materials development have altered the trajectory of human civilization, using historical based evidence to highlight changes in human society, culture, politics and economics. It is easy to be unaware of the luxuries that modern materials afford us, and that these luxuries were not always there - such as the relative scarcity of aluminum before the 1900's or plastic before the 1960's. It is also easy to miss how materials development has tangentially impacted human civilization in more indirect ways - for example, the transition from wood to coal was largely driven by demands for metal; coal has subsequently impacted our environment, leading to a demand for alternative energy sources.

The availability or scarcity of materials has been largely attributed as a major cause for the current global distribution of power, and will be key to defining this distribution in the future. The critical impacts of materials in history are emphasized by the naming of entire epochs of human development by the materials that define them (think stone-age, copper/bronze/iron/steel ages, the age of silicon). Walking a fine line between the materials science and social science, this class will demonstrate this often understated concept.

MSE 201: Introduction to Materials Science (F2018, F2019)

This class serves as an introduction to materials science and engineering for many of the engineering majors - and others who are interested in the subject. The materials around us, developed over the melenia of human civilization, enable modern technologies, and understanding the multi-scale structures which determine the properties of a material are clearly key to new discoveries. This class provides an introduction to Materials Science, building up from the fundamental units - the atom - through bonding, nanoscale structures, microscale structures and imperfections.

The second half of the course covers how these structures define the properties of materials, focusing on mechanical properties, such as the stress strain curve and materials processing, and ending with functional properties (magnetic, electronic, optical, thermal). This class was very exciting for me by enriching my physics background with practical, real world systems.