3.014 | Fall 2006 | Undergraduate

Materials Laboratory


Course Meeting Times

Labs: 3 sessions / week, 4 hours / session

Recitations: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Subject Introduction

3.014 Materials Laboratory is a required sophomore subject in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, designed to be taken in conjunction with the core lecture subject 3.012 Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering. The laboratory subject combines experiments illustrating the principles of quantum mechanics, thermodynamics and structure with intensive oral and written technical communication practice. Labs run during 4 intensive week-long periods interspersed through the semester; each week emphasizes three topical themes related to 3.012. During weeks in which 3.014 is in session, 3.012 does not meet.

The class of typically 50 students is divided into six lab groups. During each lab week, six separate 4-hour experiments run simultaneously, grouped into three topical themes. Each lab group conducts 1 of the 2 experiments grouped under each theme (α, β, γ). Hence, each lab group will perform 3 experiments per lab week, totaling to 12 experimental sessions of 4-hours each over the course of the semester.

Each lab experiment is designed to give students first-hand experience with the concepts developed in the lecture subject 3.012. In addition, students gain familiarity with common tools for materials characterization, including differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), x-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning probe microscopy (AFM/STM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), UV/Vis, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM) and dynamic light scattering (DLS).

Students complete mandatory laboratory and radiation safety training prior to their first lab session. To prepare for specific labs, students are provided with background notes tailored to the experiment to be conducted. The notes provide only background information, but do not generally detail the specific experiments to be conducted, or the procedures involved. Students are responsible for recording procedure, data, data analysis in their laboratory notebooks, and build their formal laboratory reports based on these recordings.

In 3.014, each student completes only half of the 24 total experiments conducted each semester. Connections between different experiments under the same topical theme (α, β, or γ) are made during two 1-hour recitation sections that run on alternate days from the lab. In these mandatory, highly interactive sessions, students report their past-day’s findings at the black board in an impromptu fashion and respond to questions from instructors and peers.

The graded communications portion of the subject includes:

  1. Student lab notebooks
  2. Mandatory interactive recitations
  3. One poster or oral presentation
  4. One journal article
  5. One technical report
  6. One memorandum, written in a 3 hour final exam session with only the student’s lab notebook to serve as a reference


All students must pass the on-line safety training offered by MIT’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office prior to working in the lab in 3.014. Students will need to complete on-line training courses for General Chemical Hygiene and Managing Hazardous Waste. Students should complete their on-line training before the first lab session.

As a supplement to the EHS on-line training, students are required to attend the EHS classroom training for individuals working with potentially hazardous chemicals in the lab and radiation.

Lab Notebooks

Each student will be required to maintain a bound laboratory notebook into which original entries are to be made in ink. Original notes on procedures, experimental observations, data, data analysis, etc. should be made in it. This information will serve as the principal source for constructing the laboratory reports, so it’s important to keep careful records of the work. Notebooks will be collected for grading periodically during the term. Guidelines for keeping a lab notebook will be handed out prior to the first lab date.

Lab Reports

3.014 fulfills the institute communication requirement (CI-M) through a combination of written and oral reporting on experiments performed in the class. Students will report on one of the three experiments performed during each of the lab weeks, designated by the instructors. Reports will be due the week following each lab. In addition, a memo based on Lab week 4 will be written during the 3-hour final exam period.


In 3.014, student’s final grade will be determined from the grades received for their participation in labs and recitations, laboratory notebook, 2 written reports, poster, and final exam with the percentage breakdown as given below.

Class Participation 15%
Laboratory Notebook 10%
Poster 15%
Journal Article 20%
Technical Report 25%
Final Exam Memo 15%

Reports will be graded on the basis of 70% technical content, 20% organization and 10% style and mechanics.

Collaboration Policy

In preparing the reports, students are encouraged to discuss their results with their lab mates. Data and figures may be shared between students in their lab group for the purpose of preparing the report, provided proper acknowledgment is made in the reports.

All writing in 3.014 must be original. Students should not copy any portion of their laboratory reports from reference materials or the reports of other students. Students should not use reports from previous years or their lab mates’ reports in preparing their own reports. 3.014 has a zero tolerance policy on plagiarism. Any student caught plagiarizing will receive a grade of zero on the assignment and be taken to the Committee on Discipline (COD) for disciplinary action.

Students are responsible for knowing what acts constitute plagiarism. If they have any doubt about how/when to properly cite or use a source, they should contact Professor Stellacci to obtain clarification.

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