Nontechnical abstract MIT has an exceptionally strong and wide-ranging effort in materials science and engineering that cuts across eleven different academic departments in the schools of science and engineering. The MIT MRSEC, locally known as the Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE), is a cross-school interdisciplinary center that plays the critical role of bringing this diverse materials community together by encouraging and supporting collaborative research and innovative educational and industrial outreach programs. The mission of the MRSEC is to encourage high impact, fundamental research and education in the science and engineering of materials in support of existing and emerging technologies that will address the current and future needs of society. To accomplish this mission, CMSE enables collaborative interdisciplinary research among MIT faculty and between MIT faculty and the researchers of other universities, industry, and government laboratories. Another key objective is the development of state-of-the-art shared facilities that provide and maintain critically enabling instrumentation for CMSE MRSEC investigators and the broader MIT and US materials community. The center offers several education and outreach programs including programs directed at middle and high school students, K-12 teachers, women and minorities, undergraduates, and graduate students.
The MRSEC research program supports collaborative, interdisciplinary research that addresses important complex problems not easily solved without a diverse team of researchers from different fields. This objective is realized through the support of interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs), seed projects, and shared experimental facilities (SEFs). In IRG-1, the focus is on detailed fundamental studies of in-fiber fluid instabilities in multiple fluid systems. From this fundamental research will arise new processing paradigms for creating nanospheres of arbitrary size, geometry and composition with expected discoveries, both fundamental and applied, spanning novel neuronal interface devices, delivery vehicles for pharmaceuticals, and potentially in the chemical and electronics industries. IRG-II focuses on unraveling the multi-faceted interplay of structural elements in complex biological hydrogels. This group seeks to understand the fundamental biology, chemistry and materials science underlying the unique properties of biological hydrogels and use this knowledge to design and create synthetic mimics that have the potential to revolutionize the design of water purification technologies and a range of biomedical applications. Finally, IRG-III focuses on a key unresolved issue in materials with oxygen defects: namely, what coupling mechanisms exist between oxygen defects and the transport of phonons, spin and charge at the interfaces of complex oxides. The resultant basic science could provide the foundation for the development of a new generation of high-efficiency energy conversion and storage devices.