Read any headlines about materials research or commercial material breakthroughs, and sooner or later, Penn State’s name will be mentioned. That’s because it not only leads the world in materials research, but it also successfully partners with materials companies to use that research as a catalyst for industry change. From Penn State’s 100 years of work in carbon science to today’s groundbreaking discoveries in graphene, to 3D ferroelectric microelectronics, industry around the world benefits from work done right here in Happy “Materials” Valley.
Penn State’s research expertise surpasses that of any other university in the country, according to National Science Foundation rankings of Higher Education Research and Development (HERD). The university ranks first in materials science and second in materials engineering, followed by Johns Hopkins and Michigan. “Penn State has an exceptional culture of innovation that is embraced by our faculty and investigators and fostered across our colleges and interdisciplinary research institutes,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “This differentiates us from other universities.”
In 2018, Morgan Advanced Materials, a global leader in materials science, established its Carbon Science Centre for Excellence in Innovation Park. It is one of three centers around the world, and the only in the United States. “For us, the decision to work with Penn State was a natural one,” Mike Murray, chief technology officer at Morgan Advanced Materials, said when the center was launched. “As a world leader in carbon-related research, Penn State has an unrivalled reputation for innovation in its field, which we believe will add real value for our customers. The partnership will help accelerate our development of new products and capabilities, enabling us to continue to meet the future needs of our customers more quickly, efficiently and comprehensively.”
Built in 2012, this 275,600-square-foot science building houses two of the university's premier research organizations: the Materials Research Institute and The Huck Institutes for the Life Sciences. It represents the convergence of engineering, physical science and life sciences, augmented by high-speed computation and data search, opening new frontiers in human health, energy and materials science. The complex embodies a new style of research, where experts from many disciplines coordinate their technologies and knowledge in ways that produce exponential advances.
The IUCRC program generates breakthrough research by enabling close and sustained engagement between industry innovators, world-class academic teams and government agencies. Of the total 70 IUCRC sites, six are hosted at Penn State – nearly 10%. Of those six, four are related to materials:
Working with key industry partners like Morgan Advanced Materials, Penn State was awarded two major materials research grants this summer. The Center for Nanoscale Science, a National Science Foundation Materials Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), successfully renewed its NSF support in the highly competitive MRSEC program for $18 million. The new iteration of the center encompasses two of NSF’s Big Ideas — "Quantum Leap" and "Harnessing the Data Revolution." An Energy Frontier Research Center Grant for $12 million was awarded to study 3D ferroelectric microelectronics in computer chips, and increase the speed between memory chips and computational chips.
This year, you can attend Materials Day from home, Nov. 10-11. This free event is a great way to learn more about materials research happening at Penn State. Find out more details and register at https://www.mri.psu.edu/mri/events/materials-day-2020.