History of MSE at Penn

The Early Days of Materials Science at Penn

History of MSE at Penn

In 1946, four industrial scientists (Francis Tatnall, Ad Schaffer, Robert Yarnall, and Francis Foley) raised $240,000 to establish the School of Metallurgical Engineering at Penn. The new School was originally located in the Towne Building, and Robert Brick (its first chairman) was recruited from Yale. By 1952, there were three professors: Robert Brick for physical metallurgy, Fred Dunkerly for chemical metallurgy, and Norman Brown for mechanical metallurgy. In 1955, Brick and Dunkerly left the University for industry, and Robert Maddin (the second chairman), began building the department into a distinguished center for materials research. The initial faculty appointments included: John Hobstetter (a physical metallurgist), Doris Kuhlman-Wilsdorf (a mechanical metallurgist), Erwin Parthe (a crystallographer) and Louis Girifalco (a physical chemist).

The Space Age

History of MSE at PennA major impetus for the growth of materials science in the United States was the Russian deployment of the spacecraft Sputnik in 1957. The Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense (DARPA), recognizing that advances in materials were needed to regain the lead in the space race, decided to provide funding for several new interdisciplinary materials research laboratories (MRLs) at universities. The proposal from Penn, orchestrated by Robert Maddin, Robert Hughes (a chemist), Norman Hixson (a chemical engineer), and Eli Burstein (a physicist), was funded and Penn became one of the first three MRLs in the U.S., along with Cornell and Northwestern. In 1963, the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) was opened at 33rd and Walnut Streets to house both the Department of Metallurgy and the DARPA-funded Materials Research Laboratory. John Hobstetter was the first Director of the LRSM, and subsequently became Deputy Provost of the University.

The 1960s

With the DARPA funding and the interdisciplinary research opportunities in the LRSM, the expansion of the department in the 1960s was dramatic. The first electron microscope was introduced by Norman Brown, and Louis Girifalco was brought to Penn to strengthen the theoretical studies of materials. The growth of chemical metallurgy occurred with the additions of Geoffrey Belton with expertise in chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, and Paul Duby who specialized in electrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. Further additions in the early sixties were Robert MacCrone, who specialized in electrical properties of materials, and Herb Herman, with expertise in physical metallurgy. Charles McMahon (a mechanical metallurgist) began his studies on the temper embrittlement of steel. In the mid-sixties, Wayne Worrell brought expertise in the chemical and electrochemical properties of high-temperature materials, and David Gaskell introduced the "Wonderful World of Slag." Campbell Laird started his research on alloy deformation and fatigue. David Pope specialized in high temperature intermetallic alloys, and Charles Graham established a program in the field of magnetic materials. It was also in the sixties when Solomon Pollock (a solid state physicist) and Edward Korostoff (a physical metallurgist) established a research program in biomaterials and began their pioneering work on the effect of electric fields on bone growth. Solomon Pollack subsequently became the first chairman of the new Department of Bioengineering at Penn.

History of MSE at Penn

The 1970s

In the 1970s the department's activities expanded into materials other than metals, precipitating a change in its name from just Metallurgy to (briefly) Metallurgy and Materials Science, and then to its current title, Materials Science and Engineering. New additions to the faculty were William Graham specializing in field emission microscopy and John Fischer, who used high resolution x-ray and neutron diffraction to investigate carbon allotropes such as graphite, the fullerenes, and their compounds. Vaclav Vitek began modeling of grain boundaries and the mechanical behavior of metals at the atomistic level. Takeshi Egami used theoretical and experimental techniques to investigate quasi-crystals and oxide superconductors. Gregory Farrington added expertise in the field of fast ionic conductors (beta-alumina and polymer electrolytes) and became Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1990.

The 1980s and 1990s

Further diversification of the department faculty occurred in the 1980s. Peter Davies brought expertise in solid state chemistry and ceramics, and David Luzzi specialized in high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Dawn Bonnell introduced scanning tunneling microscopy of metal oxide surfaces and interfaces. In the 1990s the department extended its commitment to covering all areas of materials with the hiring of two faculty in polymers: Russell Composto (who specializes in high energy ion scattering for studying elemental diffusion and phase separation at polymer surfaces and interfaces) and Karen Winey (an expert in synthesis and characterization of polymers and block co-polymers). The ceramics program was also strengthened through the addition of I-Wei Chen from the University of Michigan.

History of MSE at Penn

The 21st Century

Shu Yang became the first new hire of the 21st Century, bringing expertise in the synthesis of nanostructured polymer-based materials with unique electrical, optical and biosensing functionality. Also joining the Department are Ju Li, Daniel Gianola and Ertugrul Cubukcu.

The Department looks forward to continued advances in its research and teaching programs as it enters a period of extensive hiring to broaden its leadership in the science and engineering of nanostructured systems and biomaterials.