Research

'Lava Lamp' Vesicles Show How Cells Could Self-organize

The inside of a living cell is crowded with large, complex molecules. New research on how these molecules could spontaneously organize themselves could further our understanding of how cells manage their essential biochemistry in the crowded space.

The Space Between

We all have experience with water turning from solid to liquid to gas and back again. But knowing what happens scientifically during those transitions is an essential, yet unanswered scientific question that Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Jeremy Mason and his research group are pursuing.

Using Machine Learning to Find Reliable and Low-Cost Solar Cells

Researchers at the University of California, Davis College of Engineering are using machine learning to identify new materials for high-efficiency solar cells. Using high-throughput experiments and machine learning-based algorithms, they have found it is possible to forecast the materials’ dynamic behavior with very high accuracy, without the need to perform as many experiments.

Innovating for our future

Peifen Lyu ’19, Ph.D. ’25 has created a magnesium-based nanoscale optical device that dissolves in water and changes colors in displays. It creates a color change across several applications, such as a coating for pills or as sensors in environmental science for testing different chemical compositions.

Cassondra Brayfield Awarded Cadence Women in Technology Scholarship

Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. candidate Cassondra Brayfield was named a recipient of the Cadence Diversity in Technology Scholarship under its Women in Technology program. Brayfield was selected based on leadership skills, recognition of accomplishments, endorsement from professors, and drive to shape the world of technology. 

Developing Life-Like Synthetic Cells

Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. candidate Pallavi D. Sambre is taking the first steps toward engineering lifelike artificial materials that reconstitute a cell’s ability to change their membrane shape to move from one part of the body to another.

Ph.D. Student Margaret Duncan Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Second-year materials science and engineering Ph.D. student Margaret Duncan, part of Associate Professor Marina Leite’s lab, received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is the oldest and one of the most prestigious of its kind and it recognizes and supports outstanding STEM graduate students who have the potential to become knowledgeable experts and significantly contribute to research, teaching, and innovation.

Hot and Cold

UC Davis engineers are innovating at high and low temperatures to enable travel at hypersonic speeds and sustainably keep food safe and fresh, respectively.

Scott McCormack Receives $1.4M to Study Ultra-High Temperature Ceramic Processing

Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Scott McCormack and his team received $1.4M from the Air Force Office of Science and Research to reduce uncertainty and standardized processing techniques for ultra-high temperature ceramics.

Ultra-high temperature ceramics (UHTCs) are ceramic materials that melt at temperatures above 3000˚C, nearly 5500˚F. Their ability to withstand extreme heat loads makes them ideal for building hypersonic vehicles and platforms, but UHTCs can be difficult to process reliably.

Professor Ricardo Castro featured in New York Times' Wirecutter

Professor Ricardo Castro speaks with Ellen Airhart from The New York Times' Wirecutter on nanotechnology. In this article titled Paying More for Nano-Textured Glass (Probably) Isn’t Worth It, Professor Castro talks about the value of nanotechnology in the development of screen glass for cellphones and computer monitors. Currently, nanotechnology is utilized to strengthen screens as well as reduce glare — but is it worth the price markup? Read the full article on Wirecutter

Seung Sae Hong Receives NSF CAREER Award

Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professor Seung Sae Hong recently received a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (NSF CAREER) Award. The CAREER award is the agency’s highest honor for young faculty. It recognizes those with the potential to be leaders in their fields and funds five-year research and education projects that should serve as the foundation for their careers.

Unfold: The Science of Superheroes

Professor Ricardo Castro teaches engineering students to think outside the box and to contemplate the unlikely, but not always impossible, real-world applications of materials science based on the powers of superheroes.

Professor Sangtae Kim and the Linear Diffusion Model

Research Impact

Optimizing the performance of electrolytes used in alternative energy technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells, and batteries relies on measuring and understanding the transport of oxide and lithium (Li) ions (O2- and Li+) and/or protons (H+) in ceramic materials.

Undergraduate research in Kukreja Lab outlines novel nano-diffraction analysis method

Materials science and engineering (MSE) former undergraduate researcher Joyce Christiansen-Salameh has developed a new way to analyze complex x-ray nano-diffraction datasets using a k-means clustering algorithm. The program iteratively groups data points by clustering pixels with similar intensity within a certain distance on the detector, which makes it easier to find the Bragg peaks that reveal the structure.

Applying machine learning to renewable energy

Materials science and engineering associate professor Marina Leite thinks machine learning is key to the next big breakthrough in renewable energy. With a new three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Leite will use machine learning techniques to study perovskite solar cells, a class of highly efficient but volatile devices, to find the optimal conditions to run them reliably.

Exploring Perovskites: A Conversation with Marina Leite

Though their optical and electrical properties are very promising, perovskites are a class of materials that are still understudied. Until researchers have a better understanding of their overall properties, they can’t learn how to control them to create ubiquitous devices like solar cells, LEDs and photodetectors.

Using “fun physics” to advance computing

Driven by the thrill of discovery, materials science and engineering professor Yayoi Takamura’s research group explores the “fun physics” of the magnetic and electronic properties of thin films of complex oxide materials to better understand how these materials that can be used in advanced computing.