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UC San Diego launches Institute for Materials Discovery and Design

The University of California San Siego (UCSD) has formed the San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery and Design, a joint initiative of the Jacobs School of Engineering and Division of Physical Sciences at UCSD. Shirley Meng, Zable Professor of NanoEngineering, will serve as director of the Institute; Michael Sailor, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will serve as co-director.

The institution’s goal is to position UC San Diego as the recognized global academic leader in nanoscale and quantum materials design and discovery. The Institute will apply data analytics and machine learning together with rapid materials synthesis and multi-scale characterization in order to accelerate the discovery, design, synthesis and evaluation of novel functional materials. Application areas include energy systems, electronics, information technology, telecommunications, space systems and medicine.

The Institute will build on UC San Diego resources such as the Nano3 Facility and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. In addition, the campus-wide Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Program will be an important part of the Institute.

This program, which is administered by the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) Department under the leadership of MAE Professor Prabhakar Bandaru, already includes more than 90 participating faculty from the departments of MAE, Structural Engineering, Bioengineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, NanoEngineering, Physics, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as well as the School of Medicine and Division of Biological Sciences.

The San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery and Design will initially focus on several important initiatives, including:

  • Deployment of Frontier Instrumentation: The Institute will build up a world-class nanoanalytical instrumentation facility, within the Nano3 facilities in Atkinson Hall. The first acquisition is a state-of-the-art Thermo Fisher Scientific Transmission Electron Microscope (Talos F2001 S/TEM) dedicated to materials characterization. Installation of the TEM is expected to be complete by January 2020.

  • Contributions to Graduate Education: The Institute aims to develop new training and curricula in data analytics and machine learning applied to materials science and engineering as well as nanoanalytical/nanofabrication training associated with the Nano3 facility. The Institute will also work towards establishing new graduate fellowships in materials science through collaboration with industry, foundation and community partners.

  • Multi-Investigator Grants: As the Institute builds up the campus research instrumentation capability, UC San Diego will be better positioned to compete for large multi-investigator materials research center awards. Several joint proposals are already under development or have been submitted.

  • Distinguished Seminar Series: The Institute will host a distinguished seminar series aimed at catalyzing new collaborations while raising UC San Diego’s national profile and international stature.


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