Summary of FY2002 Budget Request to Congress - National Science Foundation


The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Materials Research (DMR) Subactivity is $205.42 million, a decrease of $4.33 million, or -2.1 percent, from the FY 2001 Current Plan of $209.75 million.

(Millions of Dollars)

   FY 2000 Actual FY 2001
Current Plan
FY 2002 Request Change
Amount Percent
Materials Research
Total, DMR

Totals may not add due to rounding.

DMR supports research and education to advance the fundamental understanding of materials, to enable the development of materials with superior properties, and to enhance the understanding of the interconnections among synthesis, processing, composition, structure and properties of materials and how these factors affect their performance. Materials research integrates a wide range of activities spanning both science and engineering. It extends from investigations of phenomena in condensed matter physics and solid state chemistry to research on functional materials including metals, ceramics, polymers, biomaterials, and electronic, photonic and magnetic materials. Its practitioners include physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers, and, increasingly, it benefits from the participation of researchers from an even wider range of disciplines such as biochemistry, biology, earth sciences, mathematics, computer science, and medicine.

The technological and societal significance of the field is far-reaching. DMR supports education, fundamental research and facilities that are critically important to the future advancement of industries and technologies ranging from electronics and communications to information technology, transportation and aerospace, energy, environmental protection, manufacturing, medicine and health care, packaging, and civil infrastructure. NSF provides about half the total federal support for university-based research in materials. About half of DMR's portfolio consists of support for individual investigators and small groups, with the balance providing for Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs), Science and Technology Centers (STCs), and large facilities for shared use, including the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL).

Researchers and educators supported by DMR continued to make exciting progress this year:

  • The computers and communications systems of tomorrow may depend on the controlled transmission of light or "photonics" as much as today's systems depend on semiconductor electronics. A crucial property of semiconductors like silicon is the electronic "bandgap" that controls the flow of electrons. Edwin L. Thomas and his colleagues at MIT have created miniature cylindrical photonic bandgaps using alternating layers of polystyrene and tellurium with tailored thicknesses. These "omniguides" cause complete internal reflection of light and allow it to be guided around sharp corners. Depending upon the tube diameter, the guides can be tuned for use anywhere from high-powered lasers to telecommunications wavelengths. Science magazine cited this discovery as one of its Top 10 "Breakthroughs of the Year".

  • Ultrafast measurements are the basis of Margaret Murnane's research at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her group has shown for the first time that ultrafast laser-generated x-ray pulses can be used to visualize surface chemical reactions. Knowledge of chemical dynamics on solid surfaces is important for understanding the reactions on catalytic surfaces that are widely used in industrial applications. Professor Murnane has also been able to visualize electron dynamics on surfaces, an important aid in understanding electron transport in novel organic materials that are being used in flat panel displays. The research is quintessentially interdisciplinary, and involves physicists, chemists, material scientists, and engineers.

DMR supports two Collaboratives to Integrate Research and Education (CIRE) linking minority-serving institutions with mainstream materials research centers. One links Florida A&M University with the MRSEC at Carnegie Mellon University, and the other one links faculty and students at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao with their counterparts at the MRSEC at the University of Pennsylvania. The Collaboratives are designed to strengthen minority education in materials-related areas by establishing joint research programs that involve students in research, and sponsoring summer exchange programs for both faculty and students.

The FY 2002 Budget Request includes:

  • New activities will emphasize nanoscale structures and quantum control and biosystems at the nanoscale; computational materials science; and the interface between biological systems and materials. DMR will support new activities integrating materials research and education, including activities to foster enhanced international cooperation in materials and initiate an electronic Materials World Net. DMR will also increase support for young scientists and engineers in the materials field, and respond to diverse human resource development needs for the future workforce in advanced materials. In order to support these new activities the number of existing materials research projects will be reduced following competitive review. Materials Research decreases by $8.83 million to $170.68 million.

  • In FY 2002, up to three new Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers will be established through open competition in critical areas such as nanoscale science and engineering, information technology, and the interface between materials and biology. One International Materials Institute will be established to foster and enhance interaction in materials research and education between U.S. and foreign investigators. Support for existing Centers will be reduced through competitive review. Support for Materials Research Centers decreases by $3.31 million to $54.25 million.

  • Facilities support increase by $4.50 million to a total of $34.74 million. This support includes strengthening user programs and facilities at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), enabling it to properly maintain and upgrade its unique set of continuous and pulsed-field magnets for users across a wide range of disciplines. DMR will also provide $1.0 million to support enhanced capabilities at the Center for High Resolution Neutron Scattering at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and at the Synchrotron Radiation Center at the University of Wisconsin.

  • FY 2002 will be the last year of DMR's supported design and development activities at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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