Michael J. Aziz

Michael J. Aziz

  • Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies
  • Participant, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • Faculty Associate, Center for Nanoscale Systems
  • Faculty Associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment


How often has a scientist or engineer said, "If I could only make this particular material or combine these materials into a certain structure, I bet it would have these wonderful properties that could be used to make this cool device"? Our generation is the first in human history to enjoy more than accidental success in this regard, but in general it's a very difficult task that is in many cases still characterized by much empirical laboratory trial-and-error.

Many modern materials synthesis and processing techniques take advantage of processes that occur far from thermodynamic equilibrium to force atoms or molecules into positions that are not naturally favored and to prevent the structure from relaxing to its most favored configuration. Professor Aziz's research focuses on the relationships between materials processing, structure, and properties in a variety of materials. In many instances a central role is played by kinetics: the study of mechanisms and rates of atomic transport and rearrangement.

Applications include microelectronics, optoelectronics, astronomical observation, and energy and climate change mitigation technologies. Ongoing projects include:

  • Synthesis and properties of novel semiconductors and semiconductor nanostructures with applications in optoelectronics and photovoltaics;
  • Nanoporous materials produced by electrochemical processes with applications in catalysis and energy technology;
  • Electrochemical processes and materials for reversible fuel cells and carbon sequestration;
  • Nanoscale morphology evolution in ion sputter erosion with applications in novel liquid crystal displays, single biomolecule detectors and the imaging of extra-solar planets.

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • Present: Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies