Stephen McDonnell headshot

Stephen John McDonnell

Assistant Professor
Unit: School of Engineering and Applied Science
Department: Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Office location and address
Wilsdorf Hall Room 222
395 McCormick Rd
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
B.S. ​Applied Physics 1st class honors; Dublin City University, 2004
Ph.D. ​Physical Sciences; Dublin City University, 2009

Stephen McDonnell’s current research focuses on understanding how 2D materials, such as the transition metal dichalcogenide family, interface with other materials in electronic devices. Interfaces play a critical role in the performance of electronic devices. As such, understanding the bonding in heterostructures is crucial to enabling the interface engineering required to integrate materials into nanoelectronic device architectures. In our lab, we have established a dedicated growth and characterization ultra-high vacuum system that allows us to, not only synthesize high purity 2D semiconductors, but also to investigate the structure, composition, and electronic properties of these materials prior to any atmospheric exposure. Without breaking vacuum we also deposit device relevant insulators and metals to enable a detailed understanding of how such structures impact the electronic properties of the semiconductor. In addition to our nanoelectronic focused work, we continue to explore the wider applications of transition metal dichalcogenides in optoelectronics and photocatalysis.

Phase II IUCRC University of Virginia: Center for Multi-functional Integrated System Technology (MIST)
Source: U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
January 01, 2020 – December 31, 2024
RAPID: Antimicrobial Coatings for the mitigation of virus transmission on high-touch surfaces
Source: U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
August 15, 2020 – July 31, 2022
XPS investigation of Carbon Fibers and their organic sizing coatings
Source: Physical Sciences Inc.
October 01, 2021 – June 30, 2022
MSE 2090: Introduction to Materials Science
Credits: 3
The field of Materials Science drives technological innovations underlying all engineering fields. This course provides a scientific foundation to promote a rigorous understanding of materials from an atomistic to macroscopic viewpoint. Material systems (polymers, metals, ceramics, and electronic) are developed sequentially to provide a framework to explain the fundamental, physical origins of observable and important macro scale properties.
MSE 2500: Special Topics in Materials Science and Engineering
Credits: 1–3
Special topic courses in Materials Science and Engineering
ENGR 3610: Nanoscale Devices & Systems
Credits: 3
The ability to spatially localize, pattern and interconnect structures with nanoscale resolution is critical for emerging technologies. This course utilizes a hierarchical approach to survey nanotechnologies, beginning with the emerging phenomena at the nanoscale; their device application for electronics, photonics, biosensing and tissue regeneration; the fabrication of integrated nanosystems; and finally their impacts on environmental systems. Prerequisite: APMA 2130, and SEAS-required physics and chemistry courses.
MSE 3670: Materials for Electronic, Magnetic and Optical Applications
Credits: 3
The course introduces the basics of materials interactions with electrons and electromagnetic radiation and describes the classes of materials that exhibit useful electronic, optical, magnetic, and superconductive properties. Particular attention will be devoted to the intrinsic (structure, chemistry) and extrinsic (processing, microstructure) material features that determine these properties. Examples of application of such materials in commercial electronic systems in common use are discussed. Prerequisite: MSE 2090 recommended.
MSE 4960: Special Project in Materials Science and Engineering
Credits: 1–6
A fourth year project in MSE, under the supervision of a faculty member, is designed to give undergraduate students an application of principles learned in the classroom. The work may be experimental or computational, and the student is expected to become proficient in techniques used to process, characterize, or model materials. The project should make use of design principles in the solution of a problem. Six hours in lab per week, notebook. Prerequisite: 4th year standing and prior approval by a faculty member who is project supervisor.
MSE 8999: Masters Degree Research
Credits: 1–12
Formal record of student commitment to master's thesis research under the guidance of a faculty advisor. May be repeated as necessary.
MSE 9999: PHD Dissertation Research
Credits: 1–12
Formal record of student commitment to doctoral research under the guidance of a faculty advisor. May be repeated as necessary.