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Home News 2016 CAU to Support New NSF Materials Innovation Platforms Program, Accelerating Field of Materials Science Research

CAU to Support New NSF Materials Innovation Platforms Program, Accelerating Field of Materials Science Research

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2016


Contact: Donna L. Brock

ATLANTA (March 7, 2016)--A new, innovative Materials Innovation Platforms (MIPs) program aims to significantly accelerate materials research and development and has made its first awards to Penn State University and Cornell University. The two institutions will serve as “platforms” to develop new bulk and thin film crystalline hard materials through state-of-the-art instrumentation. The Cornell award is a multi-institution effort in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and Princeton University.

“Our inclusion is the prestigious collaborative is yet another affirmation that we are effectively mobilizing for the future, focusing on IDEAS that matter,” says Clark Atlanta President Ronald A. Johnson.  IDEAS represents the University’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, design and systems thinking, environmental sustainability, the arts and humanities and the sciences and technology.

The platforms will foster an environment available to all that is the convergence of multidisciplinary expertise with the best tools available, providing access to the instrumentation, data and the new materials created.

Clark Atlanta will lead the theory user facility and work in tandem with theorists at Cornell to provide modeling and simulation support to these crystal growers, (thin film at Cornell and bulk at Princeton). Princeton University will participate in the in-house research program alongside Cornell, lending additional expertise in crystal growth as well.  Johns Hopkins will collaborate with Clark Atlanta University in theory (in tandem with Cornell University).  Princeton University will participate in the in-house research program and offer additional expertise in crystal growth.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will fund platforms a maximum of $25 million over the next five years, with eligibility for a one-time five-year renewal. These “platforms,” which add to NSF’s portfolio of funding mid-scale infrastructure and instrumentation, will advance a focused research area of national importance and expand access beyond a traditional user facility.  

“We see the platforms as pushing the frontiers in materials research,” said Fleming Crim, NSF assistant director for mathematical and physical sciences. “In its first call for proposals, NSF is focusing on crystal growth because the U.S. has fallen behind in this area of science after having been a global leader in material synthesis, which is essential for advancing basic materials research and will add to the important investment the foundation is making in mid-scale instrumentation.”      

NSF’s mid-scale research infrastructure program, begun over the last few years to meet a critical research need, has received a strong response from the community.          

“MIPs will serve as focal points that promote cross-fertilization of ideas between internal and external researchers, thanks to their unique convergence of expertise,” said Linda Sapochak, acting director for NSF’s materials research division. “To accelerate research outcomes, the platforms will focus on a targeted materials grand challenge and/or technological outcome that addresses a national priority. Along with the discovery of new materials, research conducted at a MIP will lead to the understanding of new materials phenomena.”         

The platforms program was inspired by the paradigm the administration set forth in its Materials Genome Initiative, and they will develop new materials, new techniques and the next generation of instrumentation that will lead to understanding and discovering all kinds of new phenomenon. Additionally, the processes these platforms will use will move between theory, measurement and actual fabrication with the aim of accelerating discovery of new materials in half the time. It’s the kind of science that will enable technology to leap forward – across the board and from wide-ranging areas, such as microelectronics, fuel and solar cells, or new biomaterials.  This kind of effort is data-intensive, such that even others not directly involved with the platform will also have access and benefit from the generated data.       

In 2011, the administration launched the Materials Genome Initiative to “discover, manufacture and deploy advanced materials in half the time and at a fraction of the cost.

The awardees will act as “nexus of activity” for a focused research theme, where platforms are equipped with a user facility and where researchers from across the nation who also engage in this research area have access to these resources to accelerate their own work. This access to a national user facility is free to academic users, which includes not just instrumentation, but also expertise in synthesis, characterization, and theory/modeling/simulation. Additionally, the platforms will enable researchers to work in new ways, fostering new approaches to multidisciplinary education and training.            

Without question, one of the most exciting aspects to these awards will be to see just how quickly these platforms can accelerate the pace of materials development,” said Sean L. Jones, NSF materials research program director. “The awards are fairly complementary to one another and accelerate research in two distinct material systems likely to have significant impact on technology as they transform the field at the most foundational level.”      

Penn State University’s focus will center upon material development with improved electronic properties.  Researchers will specifically study metal chalcogenide materials, which include sulfides, selenides and tellurides. For more information about this platform is available here. 

Cornell University’s focus will center upon 2D materials with its Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials (PARADIM), focusing primarily on oxide and oxide-based 2D films on new substrates, physical materials meant for next generation electronics. This award will search for “new materials” where the combination of 2D materials coupled with novel substrates will yield new phenomena, such as smaller, faster, smarter computer chips. More information about this platform is available here.

For more information on Clark Atlanta University’s work, contact Olugbemiga Olatidoye, Ph.D., OOlatidoye@cau.edu, Clark Atlanta’s interim vice president for research and sponsored programs, or Professor Xiao-Qian Wang, Ph.D., XWang@cau.edu, Center for Functional Nanoscale Materials, Clark Atlanta University.

Category: Technology, Students, Arts and Sciences, Faculty, Research
Keywords: National Science Foundation