DMSE’s research diversity draws new faculty member
In March, Joseph Casamento visited MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington. Having recently finished his doctorate in materials engineering, he was struck by the questions his Uber driver asked him about his research.
“He was saying, ‘Hey, what are the limitations of heat dissipation and capacitance in integrated circuits?’” Casamento said. “I mean, this is my Uber driver. I thought it just spoke volumes about the people who live in the area.”
Casamento will have a chance to check whether his impression was accurate. Now a postdoctoral researcher at Penn State University, he accepted an offer to join DMSE as assistant professor, starting in January 2024.
Casamento earned his doctoral and master’s degrees from Cornell University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and his bachelor’s from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His research interests are in semiconducting materials—generally inorganic thin films that can power electronic, photonic, and acoustic devices. As a postdoc, Casamento works at the Center For 3D Ferroelectric Microelectronics, a Department of Energy facility that works to build electronics which combine memory and logic on the same chip.
“Joe brings deep expertise in epitaxy of ultrawide-bandgap semiconductors, which are innovative and promising materials already leading to the development of new devices,” said DMSE department head Jeff Grossman.
Research in semiconductors and electronics is just part of what drew Casamento to DMSE. “The expertise spans so many areas, everything from computational materials research to polymers to electronic materials and metallurgy,” he said. “The opportunity to collaborate with such a diverse set of people, world leaders in the area, really was attractive.”
Early in his academic career, Casamento delighted in the multidisciplinary aspect of materials science and engineering—it was an opportunity to bring together chemistry and physics to design physical things, such as hardware that could be useful.
“When I was an undergraduate, I was working on thermoelectric materials, and I could actually put them in my hand. One side gets hot; the other side gets cold,” Casamento said. “We talked about the efficiency and the figures of merit and what we needed to put in a material to improve it. More importantly, we talked about the applications of thermoelectric materials.”
The prospect of teaching at MIT was another factor in Casamento’s decision, inspiring both admiration and ambition. He hopes to add DMSE classes in electronic materials or how to use vacuum science and technology to make thin films and useful materials.
“When I view a class from MIT, I view it as, ‘This is the best class in the world in this area,’” Casamento said. “So I will work hard to uphold those standards, and I’m also excited to add some unique courses.”