Focus Areas

The following are (just a few) possible areas of research focus for students in the MolE Ph.D. program. Please see our Current Student Biographies for specific projects our students are working on.


  • Material and device functionality guided molecular synthesis
  • Molecular structure and solid condensed phase assembly
  • Structure effects on electronic and photonic material properties
  • Optoelectronic properties such as light absorption, fluorescence, and phosphorescence
  • Charge transport mechanisms in organic materials
  • Nanowire based electrodes
  • Organic light emitting diodes, field-effect transistors, and organic photovoltaic devices
  • Electro-optical properties of organic systems
  • Electrochemical Cells
  • Nanocrystals for laser refrigeration
  • Energy Storage
  • Next generation battery tech


  • Synthetic biosystem engineering on the molecular scale
  • Nanoparticle Vaccines
  • Design of bio-molecular building blocks
  • Quantum-dot based tracking
  • Dynamic regulation of metabolic pathways in bacteria
  • Computational Design and Cellular Characterization of RNA Switches
  • Artificial biochemical reaction networks and devices
  • Single molecule nanopore sequencing
  • Biomolecular engineering involving DNA and proteins
  • Gene regulation and signaling
  • Protein self assembly structures such as nano cages, wires, and surfaces
  • Chemical kinetics/stochastic processes
  • Hierarchical Systems
  • Zwitterionic polymers
  • Metabolic Functionalities

Plan of Study

  • Take core courses that cover molecular properties and material functionalities; material molecular hierarchies and assemblies; and molecular design principles. Students interested in Cleantech applications will learn principles for developing functional materials and devices while those interested in Biotechnology will focus on synthetic biosystem engineering.
  • Choose elective courses to specialize in Cleantech or Biotech research areas while learning about molecular synthesis, assembly, and design; characterization and analysis; as well as theory, computation, and modeling.
  • Attend interdisciplinary seminars with renowned experts in molecular engineering fields.
  • Complete research in the lab of a participating member of the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute.