Materials Innovation Platforms (MIP)
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The Division of Materials Research (DMR) seeks to significantly accelerate advances in materials research and engineering through the rapid discovery of new materials and phenomena by developing a new midscale user facility program - Materials Innovation Platforms (MIP) program. MIPs embrace the paradigm set forth by the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) which strives to “discover, manufacture, and deploy advanced materials in half the time and at a fraction of the cost.” Platforms respond to the increasing complexity of conducting materials research that requires the close collaboration of multidisciplinary teams who have access to cutting edge tools. To accelerate research outcomes, Platforms conduct research through iterative “closed-loop” efforts among the areas of materials synthesis, characterization, theory, and the application of theory through modeling and/or simulation. The in-house research conducted by a MIP is transformational and focuses on a targeted materials grand challenge and/or a technological outcome (e.g., understanding complexity, discovery of new phenomena and materials, etc.) that addresses a national priority.
MIPs push the frontiers in materials research by advancing the capabilities of current state-of-the-art experimental tools through the development of new techniques and the next generation of instrumentation that will lead to understanding and discovering new phenomena as well as the discovery of complex functional material systems. In addition, it is expected that open access to these cutting edge tools will strengthen collaborations among scientists and enable researchers to work in new ways, while fostering new modalities of multidisciplinary education and training. The user facility aspect of a Platform accounts for approximately 50% of the collaborative effort, where a MIP provides access to unique high-quality, state-of-the-art instrumentation and technological services through a staff of experts that are accessible to external researchers and all types of institutions. Due to this convergence of expertise, MIPs will serve as focal points that promote cross-fertilization of ideas between internal and external researchers.
The Platform, the tools and techniques developed, and the resulting new materials are themselves meant to be transformative. The US, once a global leader in materials synthesis, has fallen behind in the science of crystal growth. To rebuild technical strength in this area, the initial MIPs will focus on developing new bulk and thin film crystalline hard materials. The scientific focus of the MIP program is subject to change from competition to competition. MIPs are anticipated to be five year awards totaling $10,000,000 to $25,000,000 for the award period. MIP awards are eligible for a one-time five-year renewal, subsequent to a rigorous and favorable review by NSF. To cover the breadth of this endeavor, it is expected that proposed projects will be directed by a team of at least three Senior Personnel with complementary expertise. Equipment acquisition is expected in the first few years, but yearly budget should not exceed $7.0M.