The theme of the Northwestern University CEMRI* is Multifunctional Nanoscale Materials Structures. The main emphasis of the Center is to train visionary and globally competitive U.S. materials researchers to significantly impact the U.S. economy and solve global challenges, to innovate in an atmosphere of cooperation and healthy competition among national and international partners in both public and private sectors, and to integrate efforts in research, education, knowledge/technology transfer and networking. The Center manages and maintains shared experimental facilities accessed by both Northwestern and external researchers, fosters interactions with National Labs (especially with nearby Argonne National Lab), other universities, industry (including both MRSEC-initiated start-up companies and large corporations) as well as other institutions (including The Art Institute of Chicago), and develops innovative educational programs including the science-themed performances hosted by the MRSEC-sponsored Educational Transdisciplinary Outreach Program in the Arts (ETOPiA).
The research goals of the center consist of understanding the fundamental principles and behaviors of complex nanomaterials systems, transferring results into the development of new functional devices and systems leading to new technologies and industries, and initiating close cooperation among national and international partners to improve research capabilities and infrastructure. Researchers are organized into Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) investigating: "Controlling Fluxes of Charge and Energy at Hybrid Interfaces", "Fundamentals of Amorphous Oxide Semiconductors" and "Plasmonically-Encoded Materials for Amplified Sensing and Information Manipulation", as well as seed programs. The research strategy is to investigate novel phenomena through the interactions of charges, photons, plasmons and excitons in nanostructured materials, including discrete and collective effects in model materials using theory, simulation, modeling and detailed measurements. An understanding of the underlying science will provide a basis for the design of new and extended classes of functional nanostructures for potential applications in sensing and communication, energy and environmental uses.
The educational goals of the Center are to develop and disseminate instructional materials for pre-college Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) classrooms based on Center research, to offer opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to develop skills in innovation and entrepreneurship, to work with international partners and programs to equip U.S. students with global leadership capabilities and a global research perspective, and to provide national leadership in vertically-integrated STEM learning and teaching from middle-school to graduate school in order to improve quality and reduce the cost of education. The Center has a long history of developing Materials World Modules for implementation into STEM classrooms and providing summer research training for teachers and undergraduates in Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs. Partnerships with the International Materials Institute at Northwestern and with industrial partners are providing new opportunities to develop international programs and opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in innovation and entrepreneurship-based research activities.
*a NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC)