Project Details


****Nontechnical abstract****

Transformative advances occur when new types of material organization and behavior are conceived, created, and controlled. The Penn State Center for Nanoscale Science creates four interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs) to meet this goal. The IRG1 team predicts, synthesizes and develops layered materials that couple together electrical, magnetic and mechanical properties in new ways with potential application in cell phones, high-power electronic devices, nonvolatile memory, ultrasound, and precision actuation. In IRG2, self-powered active materials are developed to sense and react to the environment through their collective behavior, capturing key elements of biological behavior in abiotic systems with potential application in biomedicine, diagnostics and sensors, and autonomous materials repair. IRG3 is pioneering the development of electronic metalattices, systems that organize materials in three dimensions on a few-nanometer length scale through innovative high-pressure synthesis, with unique electronic, optical, magnetic and thermal properties. In IRG4, light is used to modulate the controlled, reconfigurable assembly of diverse arrays of nanoparticles purposefully designed to harbor unique collective electronic and optical properties for new types of optical devices and bioinspired sensing. This cohesive culture of shared science is then extended to educate and inspire future scientists and members of the public, bring advances to market through industrial outreach, and reach the wider community through international collaboration and facilities networks. Hands-on materials-oriented kits, smartphone apps, summer science camps, and programs to support students from diverse backgrounds reach thousands of students each year. Researchers at all career stages will be instilled with a native expectation that materials research naturally reaches across disciplines and is open to individuals with diverse backgrounds.

****Technical abstract****

IRG1 'Designing Functionality into Layered Ferroics' targets the electric-field control of material response starting from the level of atoms, exploiting geometry, topology, composition, and gradients to design and discover fundamental new mechanisms and material classes of acentric layered oxides with strong coupling to spin, charge and lattice degrees of freedom. IRG2 'Powered Motion at the Nanoscale' designs synthetic active matter that exhibits emergent properties and complex functions based on motor interactions, taking advantage of synthetic motor systems that allow control of the critical features of active matter free from the constraints of living organisms. IRG3 'High-Pressure Enabled Electronic Metalattices' exploits a unique capability to fill ~10nm pores with high-quality crystalline semiconductors and characterize them with high-harmonic ultrafast coherent photons, deploying these techniques to create a new class of ordered 3D metalattices that modulate electronic, magnetic, and vibrational degrees of freedom against nm-scale structural order. IRG4 'Multicomponent Assemblies for Collective Function' exploits principles of optically modulated, gradient-driven assembly of heterogeneous, reconfigura-ble particle arrays to create electronic and photonic architectures with functions determined by the collective properties of the ensemble.

Effective start/end date11/1/1410/31/21


  • National Science Foundation: $15,905,853.00


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