Welcome to Materials Science and Engineering

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) is a research-centered educational environment whose mission is to enhance the productivity, quality, and benefit of materials-related learning to its students, faculty, and community. DMSE bears a commitment to the improvement of materials technology as an advantaged academic unit equipped with state-of-the-art facilities in areas of materials surface analysis, mechanical characterization, and an extensive suite of advanced electron microscopy instrumentation that act in synergy to consistently thrust us among the top tiers of materials research institutions in the nation.


Congratulations to Zhe Ren and Aaron Washburn on winning the 1st and 2nd place Poster Awards at the 29th ASM-Heat Treating Conference!

Zhe Ren and Aaron Washburn were awarded the 1st and 2nd place, respectively, of the poster competition at the 29th HEAT TREATING SOCIETY CONFERENCE & EXPOSITION held in Columbus (Oct. 24th~26th, 2017). Zhe’s poster was on “Surface Treatment of Co─Cr Alloys by Low-Temperature Nitrocarburization” and Aaron’s work was on “Heat Treat Optimization of Inconel 718 Cladded H13 Forging Dies for Enhanced Die Life.” Zhe is a doctoral researcher in Prof. Frank Ernst’s group. Aaron is working on his masters with David Schwam. They will receive awards in the amount of $1,000 and $700, respectively, from ASM International.  

Prof. Sehirlioglu will be serving as an AdCom member of IEEE-UFFC

Alp Sehirlioglu will be serving at a position of elected AdCom member for IEEE Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control Society (UFFC-S) in 2018/19. AdCom is the governing body of UFFC-S and is responsible for setting Society policies and overseeing all aspects of Society operations. He will be one of the 12 elected AdCom members with voting privileges, representing the Ferroelectrics community. AdCom meets twice a year.


Case Western Reserve University’s SDLE Center receives $1.47 million SunShot grant

The Solar Durability and Lifetime Extension (SDLE) Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, an organization that conducts degradation research on solar energy devices and materials, has been awarded a $1.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. The project will focus on testing the interactions of a new commercial silicon solar cell technology, called passivated emitter rear cell (PERC), with the packaging materials in solar panels aged under accelerated and real-world conditions.

PERC cells recently have been introduced to the solar market but present new concerns for lifetime and long-term power loss. Additionally, new packaging strategies must be considered to extend solar panel lifetimes beyond the current standard of 20 to 25 years. Using novel characterization methods in the lab and in the field, researchers will identify degradation mechanisms that shorten the lifetime of PERC cells, the backsheet on the rear surface and materials that encapsulate the cells.

“While PERC cells increase module efficiency from about 18 percent to 20 percent, a tremendous improvement in initial energy yield, the big challenge now is demonstrating the reliability of PERC modules compared to traditional crystalline silicon modules,” said Roger French, Kyocera Professor of Materials Science at Case Western Reserve and director of the SDLE Research Center.

The project team spans from academic reliability and device scientists at Case Western Reserve, the University of Central Florida and the University of Connecticut, to module and cell materials companies such as DuPont and Cybrid, to module manufacturer and power plant owner Canadian Solar. The degradation science approach incorporating advanced characterization techniques into time-series data streams allows for exploratory statistical data analytics and network modeling for rapid hypothesis generation and testing.

The SDLE Research Center was selected as a part of the Sunshot Initiative’s Photovoltaics Research and Development 2 funding program, which seeks to transform PV module design, explore high-risk emerging technology research, and devices and designs that facilitate rapid solar installation. Projects under this program will investigate new solar technology innovations that have the potential to make solar power affordable throughout the United States.

By identifying mechanisms of power loss in PERC modules, this research will improve the long-term reliability of PERC solar modules, thereby helping to reduce the cost of solar power.

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Frank Ernst is recipient of 2017 John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Frank Ernst, recipient of a 2017 John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching, is sure his students know he considers them his “colleagues in science” by making himself approachable and seeking their most creative ideas. That “open-door” teaching method stems from his own experience. Ernst was born, raised and educated in Germany, where he encountered what he described as “a hierarchical system” of teaching at the University of Göttingen, commonly known as Georgia Augusta, a public research university. “Professors were very unreachable,” he said. “I believe there has to be the element of critical, creative, scientific thinking and being recognized as a scientific mind respected by professors—not just as a learner, but also as a young colleague who can provide a fresh outlook on science.”

Ernst, the Leonard Case Jr. Professor of Engineering, is chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, director of the Case Center for Surface Engineering and faculty director of the Swagelok Center for Surface Analysis of Materials. He will be recognized along with other award winners during commencement ceremonies May 21.

Ernst has developed his own more collaborative style since joining the Case Western Reserve faculty about 17 years ago. He meets weekly with everyone in his research group, for example, and uses those meetings as teaching opportunities. “I want to establish a context in which students can open up,” he said. “We can learn a lot from the intellectual resource we have in our graduate students, but that requires we give them self-confidence.”

Ernst has also transformed the traditional lab report, in which science students write about how they conducted an experiment and the result. The lab reports Ernst expects are well-known to his students as “rethinks.” Rethinks were introduced in the three five-level graduate courses he teaches on microcharacterization of materials. “In a rethink, everything that could have been written without even coming to the laboratory is unimportant,” he said. “Instead, the students individually focus on a couple of observations they have made that were unexpected or surprising. They may even question apparently trivial aspects of established experimental procedures or instrumentation. Then, they apply the knowledge they acquired in the course to engage in a deep, creative and critical scientific discussion of these topics. Much different from old-fashioned lab reports, this new concept has stimulated students to come up with remarkable ideas. I take pride and pleasure in studying these rethinks and providing extensive feedback.”

His approach to modernize traditional lab reports resonates with students. “Rethinks deepen our understanding of the topic and build our confidence, even when some ideas may be slightly missing the mark,” wrote a graduate student who nominated Ernst for the award. “His feedback is always given in a respectful manner, whereby he further demonstrates his passion for the topic and explains what we might have missed or helps us dive even deeper along a path toward new discoveries.” Another graduate student nominator praised Ernst for his collaborative teaching and passion for the subject matter. “From the respect and care he showed to me and all students, it was easy to become involved and invested in the material,” the student wrote. “He cared about developing us into the best scientists and engineers as we could be, and personally took the time he needed to ensure our mastery of the material.”

Congratulations to EMSE Faculty for several awards at the Case School of Engineering Spring Meeting

Several faculty members from Department of Materials Science and Engineering received awards at the Case School of Engineering Spring Meeting. Prof. David Mathiesen received the CSE International Activity Recognition Award, Prof. Matthew Willard received the CSE Undergraduate Teaching Award and the Prof. Alp Sehirlioglu received the CSE Research Award. In addition, Prof. Peter Lagerlof and Prof. Mark DeGuire were recognized for their 30 years of service to the School of Engineering.