NYU Receives $7.2 Million NSF Grant for Center to Develop New Materials by Exploring & Controlling the Assembly of Designer Particles


New York University has received a $7.2 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation to create a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), where NYU scientists will develop new materials through the exploration and manipulation of molecular particles. This grant was awarded based on a proposal spearheaded by faculty in the recently created Molecular Design Institute in NYU Chemistry and Center for Soft Matter Research in NYU Physics.

NYU’s center is one of 31 MRSECs in the country. These NSF-backed centers employ interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary materials research to address fundamental problems in science and engineering. For more, go to http://www.mrsec.org/.

The NYU MRSEC unites NYU’s departments of chemistry and physics, its Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, its College of Dentistry, and the Polytechnic Institute of NYU as well as Princeton University. Its primary focus will be colloidal architecture—how microscopic particles are arranged and how they may be controlled to develop new materials to create better classes of consumer products.

In addition, NYU’s MRSEC will operate an Industrial Partners Program, in which businesses and corporations will become center members to collaborate with each other and NYU faculty in non-competitive research. Members will also work with NYU faculty in proprietary research.

Colloids, or microscopic particles suspended in liquids, are commercially important materials for product coatings, inks, and ceramics. As better control over the quality and kinds of materials that can be used has improved, colloids are increasingly finding applications in composite dental and medical materials as well as photonics for optical computing and digital displays.

The NYU MRSEC revolves around an Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) that combines theory, computation, structural characterization, and property evaluation, which are essential to innovation in materials research. Specifically, its work in colloidal architecture merges investigators with expertise in experimental and theoretical condensed matter physics, colloid science, synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, solid-state chemistry, and biomaterials. These researchers develop principles for the creation of materials by manipulating particle shape, size, and interactions, with the aim of obtaining and improving specific structures and their functions.

In addition to IRG research, the NYU MRSEC operates a Seed program designed to cultivate junior faculty and bolster emerging areas of interdisciplinary research-both with the aim of promoting the vitality and growth of the MRSEC. This aim is reinforced by the recent merger of NYU and Polytechnic University, which has created the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, a school of engineering and technology that will be integrated with the sciences at NYU.

The center will also create a program aimed at creating K-12 and post-secondary education activities while broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These efforts will include the “Scientific Frontiers” program, which introduces curricular materials to elementary, middle, and high schools in New York City.

In a partnership with NYU’s Faculty Resource Network, the center will offer summer research opportunities to undergraduates and faculty from four-ye 500

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