NSF Continues Support for Inaugural Materials Innovation Platforms
June 3, 2021
The U.S. National Science Foundation funds fundamental research to enhance U.S. competitiveness, economy, and people's lives. The Materials Innovation Platforms (MIPs) program was initiated in 2015 in response to national needs in mid-scale research infrastructure for accelerating materials research.
"Materials Innovations Platforms represent a new modality for supporting scientific research," says Linda Sapochak, director of the Division of Materials Research at NSF. "The MIP program provides the required infrastructure made available to a diverse set of stakeholders to support transdisciplinary research and training, to provide broad access to cutting-edge tools, and to facilitate data and knowledge sharing in key enabling areas of national priority."
Inspired by the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI), each MIP, at its core, has tightly integrated tools and activities for materials synthesis/processing, characterization, and theory/modeling. Infrastructure, consisting of a suite of state-of-the-art and often unique tools, attracts users nationwide. Each MIP also provides a framework where materials researchers in the nation share tools, codes, samples, data and methodologies, as well as training of the next generation of scientists. The infrastructure and knowledge sharing are two critical components designed for a MIP to build and nurture a scientific ecosystem for accelerating discovery and deployment of advanced materials with novel and often predesigned properties. The MIP program accelerates materials innovation by building a “national community of practitioners” that is not commonly facilitated in typical facilities or centers.
The two inaugural MIPs funded in 2016 focusing on inorganic crystalline materials have been renewed for another five years, and are highlighted below. These MIPs have already developed unique state-of-the-art tools, new materials, and materials data, and shared them with hundreds of users nationwide. Their continuation will allow researchers to fully utilize the MIP's unique capabilities in discovery and development of novel materials for future electronic and quantum technologies. In addition, each of the two MIPs will add a unique crystal growth tool within the next two years.
- Platform for the Accelerated Realization, Analysis, and Discovery of Interface Materials, or PARADIM, at Cornell University and Johns Hopkins University has built a suite of unique materials growth and characterization tools. These tools have been used by users for discoveries of a new semiconductor with an ultrawide energy bandgap, a new type of topological insulator, and a new powerful magnetic material without using any rare-earth elements. In the next five years, PARADIM will train more users, creating an ecosystem where any US scientist can create and characterize inorganic electronic material of interest.
- Two-Dimensional Crystal Consortium, or 2DCC, at Pennsylvania State University has used the materials-by-design approach and established itself as a premier facility for the synthesis of wafer-scale two-dimensional (2D) films and related layered materials with unique quantum properties. These materials have already benefited more than 100 scientists nationwide. 2DCC, in the next five years, will expand its in-person user program and create a new data-sharing tool open to users and other scientists.
A second MIP competition was held in 2019 resulting in two new MIPs funded in 2020 focusing on the convergence of biological and materials sciences. More information about these MIPs and the program can be found on NSF's website, as well as a full list of awards.
The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.