$7.5M NSF grant establishes a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center

09/27/05

New Haven, Conn. -- The National Science Foundation has awarded a six-year, $7.5-million grant to establish a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), with participation by Brookhaven National Laboratory of Upton, New York.

"The award of the MRSEC grant is outstanding news for Yale Science and Engineering and indeed the entire scientific community of Southern Connecticut," said Andrew D. Hamilton, Provost and Sterling Professor of Chemistry at Yale University. "The NSF has recognized the strength of the materials research community here and the power of interdisciplinary efforts to solve really difficult problems."

The MRSEC research program will be highly interdisciplinary, bringing together members of the departments of Applied Physics, Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. In addition to advances in science and technology, the Center will bring new educational opportunities for students at all levels and for the general public.

The initial scientific focus of the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) is the surfaces of oxide materials and the "interface" where an oxide material joins together with another material. Oxides are the most commonly occurring materials on Earth; some common examples include sand (silicon oxide) and rust (iron oxide). More exotic oxides that will be studied by CRISP include high temperature superconductors and ferromagnets. "Our MRSEC research will discover new kinds of electronic, magnetic and chemical behavior, and new ways to control and utilize them," said Charles Ahn, the Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) Leader.

Atoms in the layers at the edge of an oxide material can behave very differently from those within the interior of the material. CRISP investigators will study this region with microscopy that can distinguish differences at the atomic level. They will apply a novel electric field technique to alter properties at the interface and then explore possible applications, including new electronic devices and chemical sensors.

"By combining the strengths of Yale, SCSU and Brookhaven, we will explore how the properties of artificially structured materials change as the size of devices constructed from them approaches atomic dimensions," said John Tully, the MRSEC Director. "This will have important consequences for many areas of future technology."

Educational goals of the Center include: providing state-of-the-art research experiences for graduate students, undergraduates and New Haven area high-school teachers; increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in science; reaching out to New Haven area elementary, middle and high school students through laboratory visits, lectures and demonstrations at Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History; and increasing science literacy in future political and business leaders and members of the community at large.

This program is one of only two new MRSECs that will be launched by the National Science Foundation this year, the other will be administered at the University of Washington. SCSU will receive $1,484,000, about 20% of the $7.5 million grant, with the remaining funds going to Yale. The Center will develop state-of-the-art experimental facilities that will be made available to other researchers at SCSU and Yale, as well as outside users, and will establish working relationships with several industrial laboratories.

"The MRSEC will bring together diverse efforts on campus in materials science and engineering, and our facilities will enhance the research of other faculty and external users," said Victor Henrich, IRG Co-Leader.

The faculty participants in CRISP are:

Director: John C. Tully, Arthur T. Kemp Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Yale University

Education Director: Christine Broadbridge, Professor of Physics, Southern Connecticut State University

Interdisciplinary Research Group Leader: Charles H. Ahn, Associate Professor of Applied Physics and Physics, Yale University

Interdisciplinary Research Group Co-Leader: Victor E. Henrich, Eugene Higgins Professor of Applied Science, Professor of Applied Physics and Physics

Additional members: At Yale: Eric I. Altman, Professor of Chemical Engineering; Sohrab Ismail-Beigi, Assistant Professor of Applied Physics and Physics; Tso-Ping Ma, Raymond J. Wean Professor and Chairman of Electrical Engineering, Professor of Applied Physics; Udo Schwartz, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering; and at Brookhaven National Laboratory: Yimei Zhu, Senior Scientist and Head, Electron Microscopy Facility.

Further information on the National Science Foundation MRSEC granting program is available at http://www.mrsec.org/home/ on the worldwide web. For information about partnering institutions contact Joe Musante, 203-392-5073, musantej1@southernct.edu or Pete Genzer, 631-344-3174 genzer@bnl.gov

Source: Eurekalert & others

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