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CMSE wins major grant from NSF

MIT's Center for Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) has received a $19.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation under a new NSF program that places greater emphasis on fundamental science and engineering problems that have potential technological significance.

The new grant, largest of the 11 announced by the NSF, is for 54 months and will replace the Materials Research Laboratory grant that has provided support for the CMSE since the 1970s.

The NSF said there was keen competition for the new awards, with 156 pre-proposals, 30 full proposals and 16 finalists. The NSF announcement said strong links to industry and support of undergraduate education were important criteria in selecting grant recipients.

Marc A. Kastner, CMSE's director, said the new grant "represents an increase of 11 percent in annual funding" and "will support the research of 39 faculty in five departments of the Schools of Science and Engineering, 40 graduate students, 13 postdoctoral associates and a variety of sophisticated experimental facilities available to the entire MIT community.

"The faculty are involved in interdisciplinary research groups (IRGs) tackling problems that are too large in scope to be solved by single investigators and their individual research groups," Dr. Kastner continued. "A good example of an IRG is the new group working on microphotonic materials and structures. The five faculty members in this group are from electrical engineering and computer science, physics and materials science and engineering. They are making a new kind of material from which light reflects completely. The development of this material will allow the creation of new devices, like lasers and waveguides, with dimensions much smaller than is now possible," he said.

The NSF announcement praised the CMSE effort as an "exceptionally broad interdisciplinary program" which in addition to microphotonic materials, "addresses nanostructured polymers, phase behavior, oxide interfaces and transition metal oxides."

The CMSE has extensive shared experimental facilities that are available to members of the scientific community. In addition, the CMSE supervises the Bush Building (Building 13), which houses materials researchers from four departments in the School of Science and the School of Engineering.

Other recipients of NSF support under the new program were: University of Alabama, $2.2 million; University of California at San Diego, $4 million; University of Chicago, $7.9 million; Harvard University, $9.2 million; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, $6.5 million; Michigan State University, $5.4 million; Princeton University, $12.2 million; Purdue University, $4.9 million; Stanford University, $10.2 million; and a collaboration of Stanford, IBM and University of California at Davis, $11.2 million.

A version of this article appeared in the October 26, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 39, Number 9).

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