Officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today an award of $25 million over five years to a Chicago-based consortium that will build a new center of excellence in advanced materials research. The new Center for Hierarchical Materials Design will support the Administration’s Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), and is led by Northwestern University (NU), the University of Chicago, and Argonne National Laboratory with partners QuesTek Innovations, a small business spin-off of NU; ASM International, a well-known professional society of materials scientists; and Fayetteville State University.
President Obama launched the MGI two years ago as public-private collaboration designed to double the pace of innovation, manufacture, and deployment of high-tech materials in America. What started out as a modest investment of roughly $63 million by four Federal agencies has since expanded into a multi-stakeholder endeavor valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars and involving universities, companies, professional societies, and scientists and engineers from across the country—all working together to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the realm of materials science and innovation.
Support for the creation of a new NIST center was first announced in coordination with a celebration of the MGI’s two-year anniversary, and NIST received an overwhelming response of strong applications. The winning team will focus on developing the next generation of computational tools, databases and experimental techniques, including databases of material properties and computer simulations. The new computational capabilities will significantly speed up the process for creating and testing materials by optimizing the materials properties and design in silico, thereby reducing the need for repeated time- and cost-intensive experimental steps.
The Center’s multi-stakeholder design will create a collaborative environment for innovation, opening avenues for new materials discoveries with applications in emerging fields as diverse as self-assembled biomaterials, organic photovoltaic materials, advanced ceramics, and metal alloys. The partnership will also benefit from access to the world-class scientific facilities and expertise available at NIST.
We are excited to see this new center being launched and look forward to it setting a new standard for accelerated materials innovation and design.
Read NIST's press release about the announcment here.
Cyrus Wadia is the Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Materials R&D at OSTP
Laurie Locascio is the Director of the Material Measurement Laboratory at NIST