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Welcome to the Physical Science and Engineering Division of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology


The mission of the Physical Science and Engineering Division is to advance science and technology through education, interdisciplinary research, and innovation. Our goal is to contribute to the preservation of the planet and accelerate the impact on the Saudi economy.


Our educational programs and research initiatives are aligned with Saudi national RDI priorities and Vision 2030. We aim to provide the Kingdom with the next generations of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs capable of understanding and devising innovative solutions to global challenges. These challenges are encapsulated in the four RDI Pillars: Sustainable Environment & Essential Needs, Health and Wellness, Energy and Industrial Leadership, and Economies of the Future.


PSE research areas contributing to the Kingdom RDI Pillars and Vision 2030


PSE Research Aligning with Vision 20230's RDI pillars


Within this strategic framework, PSE fundamental and applied research addresses environmental protection, climate change, energy, and smart cities. We strive to achieve this by developing green fuels and renewable energies, creating novel materials and health applications, and providing solutions for better utilization and protection of our natural resources.


Chak Chan
Dean, Physical Science and Engineering Division

High-temperature electrical memories for brain-inspired computation

21 February, 2024

Brain-like computing could be possible using electrical memory devices made from an unexpected material.


Van der Waals crystals comprise weakly bound atomic layers that can be pulled apart or exfoliated to create two-dimensional materials. KAUST researchers have now shown that these materials can be used in high-performance, energy-efficient and high-capacity memory devices known as memristors.

The signature property of a memristor is that its electrical resistance depends on the amount of current running through it and, importantly, that this resistance remains even after the current stops. So memristors remember how much current was previously flowing through them, and this feature gives them their name: a portmanteau of memory and resistor.

This behavior is similar to the neurons and synapses of the brain, and so memristors are an exciting building block for so-called neuromorphic computers.

Doctoral student Yinchang Ma and other group members in Xixiang Zhang’s team from KAUST — working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne, Australia, Zhejiang University and Sichuan University in China, and the University of Maryland, College Park, in the United States — have created a high-performance and robust memristor from a metal thiophosphate CuCrP2S6.

Other materials in this family, notably CuInP2S6, have previously been studied for memristor applications because they are ferroelectric. This means their atomic structure can be permanently electrically polarized (the average negative electrical charge is spatially displaced from the average positive charge) by applying an electric field. The problem is that CuInP2S6 loses this ferroelectric behavior at temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. This affects the materials’ performance, which deteriorates and becomes unstable.

Read more at KAUST Discovery.

Upcoming Events


Jul 2024

Chem Ph.D. Candidate Aliyah Fakim,  supervised by Prof. Niveen Khashab


Jul 2024

MSE Ph.D. Candidate Han Xu, supervised by Prof. Derya Baran

PSE Post-graduate Programs

Welcome to the PSE post-graduate studies area!

At PSE, students embark on a journey of discovery as they pursue careers in science, industry, and academia. Surrounded by cutting-edge facilities and supported by our international team of faculty and staff, KAUST is today's best destination for students to explore the leading edge of science and earn a post-graduate diploma recognized worldwide.

Our division currently offers seven programs at the post-graduate level, including both Master's and Ph.D. options. Under expert advisors' guidance, students can design personalized course paths and research projects tailored to their career goals. Each program combines lectures, seminars, and laboratory classes, empowering students to transform their ideas into research projects independently.

Beyond academic pursuits, PSE students at KAUST enjoy a LEED-certified campus situated on the shores of the Red Sea, enveloped in pristine surroundings. The campus hosts a rich program of scientific and business events organized by KAUST and its top-tier industrial partners like ARAMCO, Sabic, Dow, Boeing, Bruker, Hewlett Packard, and more. This lively atmosphere provides students with ample networking avenues and the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities, while maintaining a well-balanced personal life. 

KAUST is an exceptional place to study, work and thrive.

If you aspire to a career in science and technology, our programs provide an excellent starting point. Both Master's and Ph.D. programs are fully funded by the university, covering tuition fees and providing a monthly stipend for  the duration of the degree. Please explore the links below to learn more about our programs and begin your journey toward a fulfilling career in your chosen field of expertise.