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The FY 2002 Budget Request for the Materials Research (DMR) Subactivity is $219.32 million, a decrease of $190,000, or 0.1 percent, from the FY 2002 Current Plan of $219.51 million.

(Millions of Dollars)


FY 2001

FY 2002
Current Plan

FY 2003




Materials Research






Total, DMR






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 fundamental 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. More than half of DMR's portfolio consists of support for individual investigators and focused research groups. The balance supports 29 Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSECs), and experimental facilities for shared use, including the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) and user facilities for x-ray synchrotron radiation and neutron scattering. In FY 2002 an additional $1.47 million is being provided to the NHMFL by Congressional directive to pay for increased energy costs for the remainder of the current award period through FY 2005.

Researchers and educators supported by DMR made exciting progress this year:

  • James Economy's research group at the University of Illinois has developed a family of activated carbon fibers with exceptional adsorption, selectivity, and versatility. As a result the group has collaborated with scientists from 3M Co., Schuller International, and Culligan Industrial Systems to design and optimize an advanced-separations platform to adsorb and filter environmental contaminants. The novel polymeric materials developed by this group are already being explored for their applications in water purification, air-quality systems, and homeland security including the mitigation of toxic chemicals.

  • Conventional wisdom would suggest that it is impossible to propagate light through a structure smaller than its own wavelength. Researchers at the Cal Tech MRSEC have demonstrated that light can propagate along waveguides with lateral dimensions of a few nanometers - only a few percent of the wavelength of visible light. The key is to exploit the tendency for electromagnetic excitations to `hop' between electric dipoles such as fluorescent dye molecules or metal nanoparticles. The light can even travel around sharp corners and through nanoscale networks - all of which is impossible with conventional waveguides.

  • Research at the frontier of classical and quantum mechanics continues to produce fascinating results. James Lukens at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, has created a superconducting device in which two electronic circuits with currents circulating in opposite directions are maintained coherently in the same quantum state. This is the largest system in which these strange effects predicted by quantum mechanics have ever been seen. The experiments have ramifications for fundamental measurement theory of quantum mechanics and for the creation of `qubit' elements for quantum computing.

  • With DMR support, Viola Acoff at the University of Alabama organizes an annual summer workshop for faculty in the mathematical and physical sciences from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Participants receive a thorough introduction to the materials science and engineering discipline through lectures, hands-on laboratory work, and visits to industrial facilities. They become familiar with the instruments and processes needed to develop instructional examples and experiments, and can then convey to their students the significance of materials in the realm of the physical sciences while introducing them to new career opportunities.

The FY 2003 Budget Request includes several enhancements and new activities:

  • Support for materials research areas related to homeland security, such as sensor materials and nanoscale instrumentation, will be enhanced through competitive review in core programs.

  • DMR will increase support for NSF priority areas in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (by $5.61 million to $70.93 million) and Information Technology Research (by $690,000 to $9.93 million). Support for international collaboration in materials research and education through centers and disciplinary research programs will be enhanced by up to $2.0 million. Up to $2.0 million will be used to establish at least two Collaboratives for Materials Research and Education, enabling minority-serving institutions to strengthen their research and education activities in materials by developing links with existing materials groups, centers and facilities. Grant size and duration will be maintained at current levels or higher.

  • The planned level of DMR support for the NHMFL is $24.0 million in FY 2003, a decrease of $970,000, subject to the satisfactory outcome of a progress review in FY 2002. As planned in the five-year award beginning in FY 2001, DMR will shift resources within the NHMFL to provide an additional $500,000 in FY 2003 to strengthen user support and enhance instrumentation at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

In order to support these new and enhanced activities in FY 2003, DMR funding for lower priority areas will be reduced.

  Last Modified: Sep 17, 2004


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National Science Foundation Summary of FY 2003 Budget Request to Congress NSF Logo