Multiscale Materials Design

Lead Instructor(s): 

Markus Buehler


Jun 20, 2016 - Jun 24, 2016

Course Fee: 





  • Closed

It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.

This course has limited enrollment. Apply early to guarantee your spot.

Learn how to design and manufacture better materials for less

As the demand for high-performance materials with superior properties, flexibility, and resilience grows, a new design paradigm from the molecular scale upwards has revolutionized our ability to create novel materials. This course covers the science, technology, and state of the art in atomistic, molecular, and multiscale modeling, synthesis, and characterization. Through lectures and hands-on labs, participants will learn how superior material properties in nature and biology can be mimicked in bioinspired materials for applications in new technology. Bridging multiple hierarchies of length- and time-scales, this course trains participants in applications to polymers, metals, and ceramics, as well as composites. The course also covers sustainable infrastructure materials such as concrete and asphalt. 

This course will focus on practical problem-solving computational tools paired with a detailed discussion of experimental techniques to probe the ultimate structure of materials, emphasizing tools to predict key mechanical properties. Case studies of molecular mechanics, bio-inspired composites, and dynamic fracture of composites and polymers will be presented and carried out by participants in computational labs. Simulation codes, algorithms, and details of the implementations of different simulation technologies, including validation, will be presented, including practical issues such as supercomputing (hardware and software), parallelization, graphics processing computing (GPU), and others. Specific focus is on structural polymers and composites, including innovative material platforms such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, and protein materials for bio-inspired materials. Participants will learn state-of-the-art techniques, such as molecular dynamics and coarse-graining, used to cover a range of length- and time-scales.

Takeaways from this course include:

  • Practical problem-solving computational tools paired with a detailed discussion of experimental techniques to probe, understand, and design the ultimate structure of materials—from atoms upwards
  • How to use the tools to predict mechanical properties such as strength, toughness, deformability, and elasticity, as well as optical, thermal, and electronic properties
  • How to use multiscale tools in energy recovery and sustainable materials and structures
  • Demonstrate the synthesis of computationally-designed hierarchical composites using 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing techniques, followed by subsequent mechanical testing. Includes validation of computational predictions, focused on fracture toughness and strength
  • Critically evaluate and apply the use of computational tools in materials design (synthesis and testing) – molecular mechanics, nanotechnology, multiscale and hierarchical materials, and emerging materials technologies
  • The fundamentals and codes to perform state-of-the-art techniques, such as molecular dynamics, molecular mechanics, and coarse-graining, used to cover a range of length- and time-scales

Who should attend:

This course will be of interest to scientists, engineers, managers, and policy makers working in the areas of materials design, development, manufacturing, or testing, who are interested in understanding how to optimize a material’s structure and performance. It should appeal to anyone working in materials or in an industry that builds on a material interaction platform (such as pharmaceuticals, regenerative medicine, energy, or civil engineering materials such as concrete) and who is interested in understanding how to optimize a material’s structure and performance. The focus on mechanical properties will include domains such as biomaterials and implants, adhesives, construction materials, and structural materials for the aero-astro, manufacturing, and automotive industries. There are no prerequisites for the course.

Computer Requirements:

Laptops are required for this course. Software used will include Visual Molecular Dynamics and web-based tools. Tablets will not be sufficient for the computing activities performed in this course.

Earn a Professional Certificate in Innovation and Technology

Multiscale Materials Design may be taken individually or as an elective course for the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation and Technology.

Program Outline: 

Participants will be exposed to both theoretical and applied concepts and systematically learn the basic methods in this emerging field of computational materials science, allowing them to understand this new technology in the context of their specific material applications. The focus on materials failure enables numerous high-impact applications where materials are designed for structural applications and where fracture processes are critical for the material’s durability.

Applied case studies include hierarchical composites, carbon nanotube and silk-based fibers, and “on-demand” protein-based biomaterials. Through these examples, participants will learn how the merger of traditional notions of “material” and “structure” enables an expanded design space in which new material properties can be achieved by simply rearranging a material’s basic elements, rather than introducing new ones. The systems perspective to materials design used here opens new paths towards understanding, designing, and predicting complex materials behavior for the development of “ultimate materials” that combine the best of all basic elements and that amplify the properties of the building blocks in a synergistic manner.

Detailed lecture notes will be provided with numerous examples and references to the literature sources, articles, and weblinks. The program includes a detailed discussion of manufacturing techniques including 3D printing, self-assembly, microfluidics, and other technologies. We will distribute and analyze material samples designed based on multiscale simulations and manufactured using 3D printing and other techniques. The program includes morning lectures (9 am-12:30pm) and afternoon labs (1:30-4:30 pm). A reception will be held on Monday and ample opportunities to meet with the instructor and to network with other participants will be provided.

The program is based on two textbooks written by the instructor:

  • [1] M.J. Buehler, Atomistic Modeling of Materials Failure, Springer, 2008
  • [2] S.W. Cranford, M.J. Buehler, Biomateriomics, Springer, 2012

Course Schedule: 

View 2016 Course Schedule (pdf)

This course runs 9:00am - 4:30 pm each day except for Friday, when it ends at 1:00pm. There is a networking reception on the first day from 4:30pm - 6:30pm.


Participants’ Comments: 


"I also really appreciated the detail that Dr. Buehler went into on each slide. He documented on the slides the key points that he discussed during his lecture."


"Markus Buehler is extremely knowledgeable, and was able to address questions from a very varied audience."



This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.


Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (40%) 40
Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (40%) 40
Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (20%) 20

Delivery Methods: 

Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (70%) 70
Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (15%) 15
Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (15%) 15



Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (80%) 80
Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (15%) 15
Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (5%) 5