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Molecular modeling of sustainable asphalt materials




1: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Faculty Supervisor:

Markus J. Buehler

Faculty email:


Apply by:

Feb. 15, 2020


Markus J. Buehler, mbuehler@mit.edu, 6174522750

Project Description

Asphalt is an important structural material used especially in road construction (94% of roads in US are made from asphalt). Correctly paving asphalt requires that it be heated to specific temperatures, but also maintain structural integrity over various weather patterns in different geographies. In this UROP project, we seek to study how specific additives affect the thermal stability of asphalt molecules by using density functional theory, a quantum chemistry computation method. This understanding has direct relevant of informing the practical design of new asphalt composite materials, with the long-term goal to develop sustainable and resilient material design solutions. The student will work with our team to learn about structural materials, chemistry, and quantum chemistry computational methods to conduct molecular modeling, relate with experimental data, and make predictions for new materials designs.


Basic knowledge in chemistry, materials, and/or related areas. Interest in computational modeling.