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NSF to award up to $22M for advanced materials research; controlling materials properties through design

The US National Science Foundation has issued a solicitation (14-591) for up to $22 million in awards under its Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program.

DMREF is the primary program by which NSF participates in the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) for Global Competitiveness. (Earlier post.) MGI aims to deploy advanced materials at least twice as fast as possible today, at a fraction of the cost. DMREF seeks to promote activities that significantly accelerate materials discovery and development by building the fundamental knowledge base needed to progress towards designing and making materials with specific and desired functions or properties from first principles.

Also of interest is research that seeks to advance fundamental understanding of materials across length and time scales to elucidate the effects of microstructure, surfaces, and coatings on the properties and performance of materials and devices.

The DMREF goal is to control material properties through design. This is to be accomplished by understanding the interrelationships of composition, processing, structure, properties, performance, and process control. The approach envisioned to achieve this goal involves modeling, analysis, and computational simulations, validated and verified through measurement, experimentation, or device demonstration. This requires new data analytic tools and statistical algorithms; advanced simulations of material properties in conjunction with new device functionality; advances in predictive modeling that leverage machine learning, data mining, and sparse approximation; data infrastructure that is accessible, extensible, scalable, and sustainable; the development, maintenance, and deployment of reliable, interoperable, and reusable software for the next-generation design of materials; and new collaborative capabilities for managing large, complex, heterogeneous, distributed data supporting materials design, synthesis, and longitudinal study.

—NSF 14-591

Only universities and two- and four-year colleges (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in, the US acting on behalf of their faculty members may submit proposals.

Proposed research must be a collaborative and iterative process wherein theory guides computational simulation; computational simulation guides experiments; and experiments further guide theory. Strategies must be included in the proposed research to advance synthesis/growth/processing techniques, characterization/testing methodology, and theory/data/computation/simulation approaches needed to develop predictive computational models.

The multidisciplinary character of this effort dictates the involvement of programs in the NSF Directorates of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Computer and Information Science and Engineering. NSF expects to make three- or four-year awards totaling $500,000–$1,500,000 for the award period are anticipated.

While not required, ties with industry, national laboratories, engineering partners, or other organizations are encouraged.



This seems a little practical and realistic for NSF. Has there been a management change at NSF? We used to say, "If it seems like it might work, NSF will never fund it". My assumption was that congress didn't want them to change the world for the better, because then why would we need politicians.

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