René M. Overney – Chemical Engineering

Teaching at the UW



Nanoscience Background

Chemical Engineering



Freshman Seminar on

Modern Product Research and Engineering  GEN ST 197

This Freshman Seminar Series introduces students to modern engineering of new and current technologies involving chemistry, biology and physics. Faculty and researchers from the University of Washington talk about modern sciences that lead to new products. The students get the opportunity to visit UW research laboratories, meet with graduate students and/or undergraduate researchers, and discuss fundamental challenges and technological advancements.

Freshman Seminar on

NanoScience and Molecular Engineering  GEN ST 197

This seminar will provide students with an awareness of nanotechnology, introduce them to research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology on campus, and provide a first intellectual platform for nanotechnology-interested students to meet.  

It is the first course in a series of courses that are develop on campus in the two colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering towards the establishment of a undergraduate Minor in Nanoscale Science and Molecular Engineering.

Introduction to Molecular and Nanoscale Principles

NME 220

The course provides an introduction to nanotechnology and nanoscience based on fundamental principles. It introduces the students to macroscopic limits of material properties and molecular structures, interaction forces, molecular transport properties, thermodynamic principles, cooperative and nanoscale phenomena, and device and process technologies.

The objectives of this course is to

o   introduce theories and concepts of nanoscale systems based on fundamental principles,

o   give students an appreciation for the importance of nanotechnology in science and engineering,

o   provide a basis for continuing education in molecular and nanoscale science and engineering, and

o   raise awareness of the technological and societal transformation anticipated through nanotechnological progress in the near future.

Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering - Seminars

NME 221/321/421

-  NME 221 – This seminar will offer students an introduction to nanoscale science and molecular engineering, familiarize them with research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology on campus, and provide an initial intellectual forum where they can share their interests in NME. NME 221 students are required to visit a research laboratory and compose a report on the research (or an aspect of it) conducted in the visited lab.

-  NME 321 – Having obtained an appreciation for Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering through NME 221, and getting started in conducting research themselves (CHEM E 499), students will learn on how to plan and tackle research challenges, put their work into the framework of others, and to present and interpret data. NME 321 students are required in teams to compose essays on contemporary societal and ethical issues.

-  NME 421 – Students will present orally an aspect of their research experience, emphasizing research objectives and motivation, and address the research hypothesis and how it was tested. Findings shall be discussed within the framework of the open literature. NME 421 students are required in teams to compose essays on contemporary societal and ethical issues.

Introduction to Thermodynamics

ChemE 260

Pre-engineering students are introduced from a macroscopic point of view to the basic principles of thermodynamics. Emphasis on the First and Second Laws and the State Principle, problem solving methodology. Course objective: Applying knowledge of math, science, engineering, and thermodynamics principles to solve problems involving Power and Refrigeration Cycles.

Transport Courses for Undergraduates


Fluid Mechanics

   ChemE 330


Heat Transfer 



Mass Transfer 

   ChemE 435

·        Fluid Mechanics: Introduces molecular transport processes from diffusive transport phenomena of viscous flow, heat conduction to mass diffusion. This course focuses on momentum transport using Shell Balances and the Navier-Stokes equations. It addresses the concepts of turbulences, friction and drag and their application to flow in conduits, packed beds and around submerged objects.


·        Heat Transfer: This course focuses on the basic principles of heat transfer, for conduction, convection, and radiation. Heat transfer is discussed in applications involving external flow, internal flow, free convection, boiling, condensation, heat exchanger, and radiation exchange. The students will be able to reduce complex engineering applications involving heat transfer to the essential and analytically analyze them, and to decide about engineering solutions based on the analysis.


·        Mass Transfer: It is the objective with this course to introduce the student to both, a microscopic and macroscopic approach to mass transfer. In a first part, microscopic diffusional processes and the prediction and use of transport processes are discussed. In a second part, the course primarily deals with macroscopic separation processes, including absorption, distillation, in both step (tray) and continuous operation. The second part of the course will lead to equipment design.

Principle of Molecular Engineering

ChemE 457

This course covers the basic aspects of statistical mechanics, focusing primarily on the canonical ensemble. Discussed is the microscopic molecular aspects of thermodynamic properties, molecular interactions and phase and solution properties, phase formation (adsorption, self-assembly, nucleation and growth), chemical kinetics, and physical kinetics.

Specialty Lectures in Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering (NME) for Undergraduates


Molecular Properties of Gases, Liquids and Solids

ChemE 498  (Autumn 2009)


Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering

NME 498  (Autumn 2010)



Molecular Engineering & Sciences

NME 498/ChemE599

  (Autumn 2011)




·        This course introduces molecular theories and concepts fundamental to material and transport properties in gases, liquids and solids. A particular focus is on critical length scales relevant for nanotechnological applications. Students learn about thermodynamic driving forces, kinetics and transition states, structure properties, intermolecular interactions, current instrumental methods (e.g., atomic force microscopy), and modern classification and fabrication schemes in nanotechnology.


·        This course connects fundamental aspects of nanoscale science with device and system applications. In six segments, students will explore nanotechnology and modern product development in molecular engineering, biomimetic engineering, nanothermodynamics and nanoparticle synthesis, electronic transport and nanoelectronic circuits, and finite size device applications involving quantum phenomena.



·        This is an interdisciplinary course for graduate and senior undergraduate student in the physical, chemical and biological sciences, and in engineering at the University of Washington. Students are introduced by leaders in the field to multiple aspects of molecular sciences and their transformative impact.

Transport Course for Graduates

Transport Phenomena

   ChemE 530


Molecular transport properties and derivation of the differential equations of mass, energy, and momentum transport. This course builds on an undergraduate experience in transport involving mass, energy and momentum.


Senior UG and Graduate Students




This course provides an introduction to nanoscience and nanoconstraints, approaching from a classical phenomenological perspective, rather than a quantum mechanical point of view. Classical material theories, such as basic rheological concepts and field theories will be introduced and discussed based on their applicability and shortcomings in constrained geometries on the nanoscale. This course addresses current issues in electronics, bioengineering and biomimetics, organic power systems, separation processes, and tribology (friction, adhesion, lubrication, wear).

Molecular Engineering for Graduates

Molecular Engineering I


The focus of this course is on the molecular aspect of condensed organic materials, in particular molecular and collective interactions and resulting interfacial forces, entropic phenomena and condensation to systems of higher complexity. This includes also the exploration of molecular system constraints and the molecular origin of resulting macroscale properties. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding concerning weak molecular interactions (e.g., van der Waals interactions), statistical and thermodynamic aspects of molecular interactions and self-assembly, including hands-on computer modeling experience, unsteady state phenomena, third media (e.g., solvent) impact on interactions, condensation and dissociation. An introduction into computer modeling (Molecular Mechanics and Dynamics), as well as Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics in Small systems will be provided.

Laboratory Summer Workshop

Scanning Probe Microscopy

This is a one-week intensive hands-on workshop using a large variety of scanning probe microscopes applied to fundamental problems in biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. Offered to students at the UW, Community Colleges and nationwide. The objective of this intensive SPM workshop is to provide a truly hands-on experience (3-4 students per instruments) in a classroom laboratory setting involving a variety of SPM techniques applied to nanoscience and nanotechnology aspects. A variety of teaching modules are available through this site.