A workshop, to be held in the University of California Santa Barbara in March 2011 on the topic of Materials by Design, is supported by programs in the Division of Materials Research (Solid State and Materials Chemistry and Condensed Matter Physics), Division of Chemistry (Macromolecular, Supramolecular, and Nanochemistry), and the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate (Office of Multidisciplinary Activities). Research in Solid State and Materials Chemistry spans the full spectrum of exploration from constituent atoms, to bonding, to physical properties in extended materials. The strong links to physical properties and the functional behavior of materials is a key aspect that distinguishes solid state and materials chemists from other practitioners of chemistry, physics, and materials science: a unique approach that includes inorganic and organic materials research, incorporating both crystalline and amorphous materials, and probed at the deepest level. The goal is frequently to achieve the desired physical properties in materials that enable a given application. In this context, we employ the term Materials by Design (MbD) to refer to research that seeks to create new materials for specific applications by design. The materials may range from solution-prepared nanoparticles, to small-molecule and polymer advanced electronic materials, to organic/inorganic hybrid materials, bulk oxides, main-group compounds, and intermetallics. One of the central goals of MbD is to make extensive routine use of computational techniques applied at multiple length scales to understand and predict new materials properties. Clearly, a vision for MbD needs to be inclusive and would rely heavily on collaboration with allied disciplines within Condensed Matter Physics (CMP) and Materials Science which will be discussed at this workshop.

NON-TECHNICAL The workshop offers the opportunity for junior and senior researchers from the disciplines of chemistry, condensed matter physics, theory and materials science to come together and discuss new mechanisms for working together to advance the concept of Materials by Design. The outcome of the workshop will be better approaches to materials discovery and a path to restoring the US to a position of preeminence in this area.

Project Report

The National Science Foundation Divsion of Materials Research supported a workshop that was run at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) in March 2011 to bring together three communities that often work on similar problems but do not frequently speak with one-another. The communities were condensed matter physics, solid-state chemistry (including the organic and the inorganic solid-state) and nanoscience. The purpose of coming together was to discuss and outline the grand challenges that prevented these communities from more rapidly achieving the goal of materials-by-design, or what is now increasingly being referred to as the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI). Research in functional materials is frequently driven by a desire to make informed choices in the quest for better, more effective materials. Some of the modalities for more effectively advancing the area emphasize the nexus between new synthesis, computational design and analysis, growth in high purity forms, and finally, end-use in terms of either application or of significant property measurement. The 2-1/2 day workshop at UCSB resulted in a published article in the Materials Research Society Bulletin that described the outcomes and deliberations that took place at the workshop. A second workshop was then run at Ballston VA in February 2013 that continued the process of bridge-building between communities, this time including ceramists and earth scientists, with the continued goal of advancing the MGI. This workshop, which prided itself in the large proportion of early-career faculty members who participated, also resulted in a published article, in the American Ceramics Society Bulleting in 2013. While workshops of these ilk usually require a number of years to pass before their long-term impact is felt, anecdotal evidence suggests that participants have already initiated collaborations and have competed for MGI-based proposals for funding, and the goal of bringing together disparate communities has succeeded.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Materials Research (DMR)
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Michael J. Scott
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University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
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