Materials and Energy Research Center

Materials and Energy Research Center



The Materials and Energy Research Center started its research work within Sharif University of Technology in 1971 as the "Center for Materials Properties", convering materials engineering, new energies, electronics and environmental pollution. The main theme was on solar energy and the most important section was Division of Electrochemistry under supervision of leading scientists like John Owen[1],[2] and Ali Eftekhari[3]. After the Islamic Revolution, the center engaged more specialists and expanded its activities. Following the Cultural Revolution the center was renamed "Cenetr for Applied Research in Material Properties and Energy" and in 1986 moved to its present location in Karaj, Meshkin-Dasht. In 1992 the council for expansion of higher education voted to rename the center as the "Materials and Energy Research Center."

MERC has 43 faculty members and all the required facilities to carry out basic and applied research, together with the facilities to train specialist manpower. The first masters course in materials engineering was taught at the center in 1993. In 1991, the first PhD course on materials engineering was offer in collaboration with Shanghigh University and three years later MERC established an independent doctorate degree course. At present there are 67 masters degree students and 31 doctorate research students at MERC working on materials engineering, nano-materials and renewable energies.

Merc has extensive laboratory space and the latest research tools together with experienced and proficient operators which it offers to researchers and selected post-graduate students working on internal and external projects. This method achieves close cooperation between the researchers, faculty members and students on one side and credible universities, science centers and industry on the other. The result of thse activities has been the execution of many important pure and applied research projects which has effectively turned MERC into one of the countries pivotal research centers.

In recent years, MERC has attained a number of distinctions including its classification in 2007 as number two in the country for nano-materials research by the National Nano-Technology Development Office, and scientific achievements such as the best professor award and distinguished researcher award.

Merc has recently hosted a number of national and international conferences in its fully equipped purpose-built multi-media conference hall with seating for 400 guests and 5 periphery lecture theatres, each seating 80 people on average. Examples of 2008 events are the International Conference on Energy and Environment, the National Conference on New Materials, and the National Refractories Conference.

Major Research Facilities

MERC possesses different laboratories equipped with rich sets of research facilities in both materials and energy fields:

  • Equipment for growing, cutting and polishing silicon wafers up to a diameter of 10 cm
  • Crystal growth units employing Czochralski, Verneuil, Hydrothermal and Bridgman techniques
  • Vacuum vaporization unit
  • Scanning high Energy Electron Diffraction (SHEED)
  • Various diffusion furnaces
  • Deposition of thin films by the sputtering method
  • Monochromator
  • Measuring devices for thermal and electrical conductivity at different temperatures
  • IR spectrometer with cryostat
  • Measuring devices for the Hall Effect between 80-500°K
  • X-Ray Diffraction unit (XRD)
  • Thermal analysis instruments including Differential Thermal Analysis (DTA), Simultaneous Thermal Analysis which includes DTA and * thermogravimatric analysis (TGA), Dilatometer (thermal expansion)
  • Powder characterization instruments including Laser Particle Size Analyzer, Surface Area Analyzer (BET method), Electrophoresis instrument (zeta potential for colloids)
  • Gas pvcnometer for the determination of density of powders and ceramic samples
  • Various types of furnaces up to 1600 °C under normal atmospheric conditions (higher temperatures under vacuum) and controlled atmosphere furnaces
  • INSTRON for the measurement of mechanical properties of ceramic materials up to 1500°C
  • Vickers Micro hardness tester
  • Rotary viscometer for measurement of viscosities of up to 100,000 poise
  • Optical and Polarized light microscopes equipped with Image Analyzer
  • Uniaxial presses, Isostatic press and hydraulic two-way press (200 tons)
  • Sample preparation devices including jaw crushers, ball mills, sieves, sieve shakers, balances, sample cutting machine, etc.

Educational Activities at MERC

MERC is now running postgraduate programs leading to MSc and PhD degrees in materials and energy. The postgraduate degree course in ceramics engineering (MSc) was first started in collaboration with the Iran University of Science and Technology in 1986. Since 1992, MERC has started its own MSc degree course in ceramics and many students have graduated under this program. The MSc course in the field of exchange and conservation of energy has started with new student’s entrance in September 2007.
The PhD course in materials engineering was also started in 1991 and continues with regular participation of research candidates. Several candidates have successfully defended their theses for the award of degree of PhD under this scheme.
Short Term Courses
These programs are organized every year to cover mainly instrumental and technical training which is offered to students and/or workers from other institutions under specific mutual agreements.

Scientific Collaboration with other Organizations

MERC has signed agreements of mutual collaboration with the intention of exchanging or transferring its scientific/research experience with several domestic organizations among which the following are noteworthy: Iran University of Science and Technology, Mazandaran University, Isfahan University of Technology, Kerman University, Tehran University, Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), Iranian Standards Institute, Environmental Protection Organization, Ministry of Mines and Metals, Optical Fiber Co. of Iran, …
MERC has also entered into bilateral agreements with foreign organizations in order to facilitate exchange of research workers and training of PhD students as well as participating in joint research projects, e.g. The Shanghai Institute of Ceramics (China), National Institute of Silicon Technology (Pakistan), Center for Scientific Research and Development (New Zealand), …

Administration Structure

The organization of MERC consists of:
Director: The Director is appointed by the Ministry of Sciences, Research and Technology and lays down the policy and guidelines in consultation with the Research Council which consists of 12 faculty members and senior scientists. Assistant Director for Research: Assistant Director for Research supervises the research programs which are carried out by members of various research groups working in the Departments of Ceramics, Semiconductors, Energy and New Materials. Assistant Director for Administration & Finance: Assistant Director for Administration & Finance supervises the procurement, purchasing, financial, and administrative support of the center educational and research departments, execution of all civil development and maintenance affairs and also personnel welfare concerns.
Manager of the Presidents Office: Coordination and administration of the affairs of the president's office, information dissemination inside and outside of the center, publication of the university bulletin and magazine, cooperation and execution of relations with the national and international scientific and Educational Centers, conducting the affairs and procedures for participation of the faculty members in national and international conferences are the main responsibilities of this department. Research Council: Preparation of research plans and programs and presenting them to the MERC administration, cooperation and giving consultation to the research director, preparation of research activity rules and regulations and approval of the faculty research plans and projects is some of duties of the council.The Research Council consists of the Director General, the Assistant Director for Research, the Assistant Director for Administration & Finance, representatives of research departments and three to five members of the faculty who have research experience.
Public Relations, International Affairs, Departmental Heads and Group Chiefs.

Administration Members

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