Advanced Materials Thrust Overview

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Vision: Engineering the Future Through Advanced Materials

Advanced materials (AM) are critical to current and emerging high technology areas, spanning from power generation, renewable energy, and next-generation computing to environment, space exploration and medicine. The demand for more sophisticated materials to enable increased engineering performance and novel technologies is unceasing, such that materials science, manufacturing and application cannot be considered separately. Today, it is often the material itself which drives the sophistication and complexity of the entire technology. With recent strides in computational materials simulations, nanotechnology, and material design that commences from subatomic particles upwards, materials are increasingly considered as “smart” and multifunctional enablers of ultimate applications. Flexible electronics is one such example where the material is also a computer, while specific alloys, termed shape memory alloys, have been designed to change shape during application. The world is rapidly advancing due to progress in engineering better materials. Advanced materials such as smart and multifunctional materials, metamaterials, synthetic and bioinspired systems, and soft materials, can become potentially game changing materials which dominate this century of scientific advances.

Today, like never before, we are realizing that advances in health care, energy, environment or infrastructure are limited or impossible without discoveries in design of novel materials with advanced properties. For such advances to happen in a timely fashion, we cannot rely on the traditional Edisonian paradigm of trial-and-error. We need a paradigm shift where theory, computation, and experimental work are brought together in an integrated fashion in all stages of material development, from inception and manufacturing to applications.

The Advanced Materials program at the U stands out by its emphasis on smart materials. With a long tradition of excellence in the fields of machine learning and energy-efficient information processing, this program takes the field of Advanced Materials to the next level. By integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and state of the art quantum-mechanical concepts into materials, this program aims to create a new dynasty of smart materials to address most formidable societal challenges of the future.

Mission: Bridging the Divide Between Cutting-Edge Science and Open Societal Questions

The mission of this Advanced Materials program is to enable solutions of the most important societal problems and of impactful next-generation cross-disciplinary applications. This interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary effort is designed to transcend disciplines with the main goal being to accelerate development of cutting-edge scientific discoveries that solve essential real-life problems in areas spanning from information processing, environment, and energy, to sustainable infrastructure, healthcare and medicine. The four-layer strategic and organizational hierarchy of the program is shown in Fig. 1.

Figure 1: Four-layer organizational and strategic hierarchy of the Advanced Materials program.
Figure 1: Four-layer organizational and strategic hierarchy of the Advanced Materials program