In support of the federal Materials Genome Initiative, the NSF has just announced the first projects to receive funding awards under a new “materials by design” initiative, which goes by the formal name of Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future. The agency says these initial DMREF awards total $12 million and are earmarked for 22 grants in support of 14 DMREF efforts. Funding for the awards mainly comes from the NSF’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences and Engineering Directorates.

NSF emphasizes that these projects are also intended to open opportunities for university–industry collaborations. Indeed, partial funding for several of the projects comes from the agency’s Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry program.

In a NSF news release, Ian Robertson, director of NSF’s Division of Materials Research, says, “Experimental and computational approaches are key to DMREF, which along with the emerging field of materials informatics, work in a synergistic partnership, each challenging and pushing the other in new directions. Success for DMREF and MGI hinges on the success of that partnership.”

NSF officials say the funded projects combine both new science discoveries and the development of new algorithms and software to speed materials and applications development. Steven McKnight, director of the Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, predicts in the same NSF release that the DMREF effort will “foster discoveries that lead to effective tools and methods for materials scientists and engineers to utilize in design and practice—as well as for further research endeavors. To do this effectively and rapidly, partnerships between NSF-sponsored investigators and students and their industry partners are essential to communicate both critical needs and emerging opportunities from DMREF research discoveries. The use of the GOALI program provides those opportunities for DMREF grantees.”

In particular, the NSF frames the DMREF work as directly addressing the Materials Genome Initiative goal of halving the current cost and time required to develop a new material and successfully move it into the marketplace.

Below are 14 projects and the principal investigators involved (several of which will be familiar to readers of this blog).

Project Under auspices of PI(s) Institutions Appox. Award
Multi-Scale Fundamental Investigation of Sintering Anisotropy DMREF

Eugene Olevsky

Rajendra Bordia

San Diego State Univ.

Univ. of Washington



High Efficiency Hierarchical Thermoelectric Composites by Multiscale Materials Design and Development

DMREF/GOALI Jihui Yang Univ. of Washington $900K

High-Pressure Synthesis of Novel Oxynitride Photocatalysts Directed by Theory and In Situ Scattering

DMREF John Parise SUNY at Stony Brook $800K
Collaborative Research: Enhanced functionalities in 5d transition-metal compounds from large spin-orbit coupling DMREF

Janice Musfeldt

David Vanderbilt

Univ. of Tennessee

Rutgers Univ.



High-Pressure Synthesis of Novel Oxynitride Photocatalysts Directed by Theory and In Situ Scattering

DMREF John Parise SUNY at Stony Brook $800K

Discovery, Development, and Deployment of High Temperature Coating/Substrate Systems

DMREF/GOALI Tresa Pollock Univ. of California-Santa Barbara $1,200K
Multifunctional Interfacial Materials by Design DMREF

Chang-Beom Eom

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Multi-Scale Modeling and Characterization of Twinning-Induced Plasticity and Fracture in Magnesium Alloys DMREF

Mohammed Cherkaoui

Haitham El Kadiri

Sean Agnew

Georgia Tech

Mississippi State Univ.

Univ. of Virginia




Programmable peptide-based hybrid materials DMREF

Jeffery Saven

Darrin Pochan

Univ. of Pennsylvania

Univ. of Delaware



Simulation-Based Design of Functional Sub-nanometer Porous Membranes DMREF

Sinan Keten

Ting Xu

Northwestern Univ.

Univ. of California-Berkeley



Engineering Organic Glasses DMREF Lian Yu

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison

Nitride Discovery – Creating the Knowledge Base for Hard Coating Design DMREF

Sanjay Khare

Daniel Gall

Univ. of Toledo

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute



Computational and Experimental Discovery and Development of Additives for Novel Polymer Morphology and Performance

DMREF/GOALI Gregory Rutledge MIT $420K
First-Principles Based Design of Spintronic Materials and Devices DMREF

Avik Ghosh

William Butler

Univ. of Virginia

Univ. of Alabama Tuscaloosa



A Fundamental Approach to Study the Effect of Structural and Chemical Composition in Functionalized Graphene Materials DMREF Horacio Espinosa Northwestern Univ. $758K