Description of Course Goals and Curriculum
This is primarily a lab based course with lectures twice a week and lab one a week.
Per this course’s syllabus,
A total of 3 laboratory modules will be completed on the following topics:
1) The new IAC: the fundamentals and hands-on access to state-of-the art equipment
2) Soft materials: synthesis and characterization of polymers
3) Hard materials: Semiconductor processing and electrical properties – the solar labs.
Each module is taught by a different professor. The goal of this course is for the student to develop familiarity with common techniques in materials science research along with an understanding of how to interpret data. Through different types of assignments, students will gain valuable practice in oral and written presentation of scientific research.
Grades will be assigned according to the following weight
IAC Module: 25%
Soft Materials Module (Polymers): 25%
Hard Materials Module (Solar): 25%
Final Project: 25%
Within each module, the faculty member will weigh the contributions from each lab assignment, notebook and in class participation.
Learning From Classroom Instruction
Print the lectures notes beforehand in a manner most convenient to you for notetaking. The lecture slides are gone through quickly so having a copy in front of you, where you can take your time to read them through and jot down noteworthy verbal notes from the professor, will be to your advantage. Lecture from all three professors is given by PowerPoint. Handwritten notes also follow, with the occasional demonstration. The PowerPoint Slides and demonstrations are for conceptual understanding, while the handwritten notes usually outline mathematical problems and the thought process of how to deal with them.
The labs for each module made up the bulk of the grading in the course. You will have at least one other partner, so work together on the labs, being efficient and detailed in your procedures. The purpose of the labs is to introduce you to (in a hands-on environment) the material you were being lectured in. Therefore, if you have any questions or concerns as you are completing them, do not hesitate to ask the AIs who are there to help you.
Learning For and From Assignments
There was only one Problem Set in this course and all it required was a good knowledge of algebra, and the concepts being addressed. There were no assigned texts/readings. The bulk of this class was based off the lab reports for each module. The lab reports are a group effort too, so whoever you worked with in Lab should write-up the report with you. Divide and conquer the required sections.
Be ready for a time-consuming solar cell (Hard Materials) module lab report. Give yourself plenty of time to complete it before the due date and start and least a week in advance. If you are stumped, discuss with your fellow classmates and go to the Professor/AI office hours.
The final project is a 15 min + Q&A presentation on an accepted material science topic that is entirely up to you. Pick either a topic that fascinated you during the course, or one you discovered and want to learn more about. Be passionate about your topic and follow not only the guidelines highlighted in the presentation rubric distributed, but also that of a formal presentation.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection
If you plan to work in the field of material science in the future, this is a class that will introduce you to some fundamental and blossoming areas in which research has been done/is being done right now. Expect to gain a better understanding of different spectroscopy procedures for chemical and structural analysis of materials, and polymer and solar cell fabrication. There were no hidden expectations. Expect a light workload until the end of the course, where the solar cell lab and final project come in.
This course opened my eyes to the wide influence and vast potential of materials science in our world today. From water bottles, to energy, to nanotechnology if this interests you, this is a must take class for you. Put in the work and you can get an A to boost your GPA!