The vision of the Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina (MADE in SC) initiative is to discover and establish new and sustainable approaches for the design and assembly of hierarchical materials at multiple relevant length scales that serve South Carolina’s STEM research, education and workforce needs and invigorate economic development. The focus of this initiative is to discover and develop new intelligently designed optical and magnetic materials, stimuli-responsive polymeric materials, and interactive biomaterials. This will be accomplished through strategic investments that include the recruitment of 17 complementary faculty hires across 5 distinct institutions; training and mentoring of postdocs, graduates and undergraduates; the development of research facilities; and outreach to the K-12 and private sector, to create a jurisdiction-wide consortium. MADE in SC emphasizes the emerging paradigm of materials discovery and development articulated in the national Materials Genome Initiative. This initiative will lead to high impact discoveries and have a significant translational impact on SC educational institutions, increasing the pipeline of highly trained students at all levels. Inasmuch as advanced materials are critical to a broad range of technologies, MADE in SC will play a critical role in the economic growth and vitality of the state and nation. The project outcomes will position MADE in SC among the most capable academic organizations for materials research in the world.
Three independent but synergistic research thrusts are proposed: intelligently designed optical and magnetic materials (Thrust 1); stimuli-responsive polymeric materials (Thrust 2); and interactive biomaterials (Thrust 3). A common multiscale Modeling and Computational Core is the foundation of the proposed research and provides an integrating focus for the project. Thrust 1 will focus on exploring the inorganic crystal structure and mesoscale assembly of hybrid inorganic and organic materials to control and tailor their optical and magnetic properties. These designed materials and assemblies will exhibit multi-functional, correlated, collective properties leading to, e.g., materials for enhanced energy transfer for lasing and light harvesting applications. Thrust 2 will design and develop synthesis strategies for polymers able to respond to external cues leading to, e.g., materials for efficient water treatment and self-repairing materials for harsh environments. Thrust 3 will develop a fundamental understanding of the effect of physical and chemical signals on cellular behavior across a range of length scales, leading to the development of interactive biomaterials, e.g., for use in regenerative medicine. The experimental research will be supported by and integrated with multiscale theoretical analysis and computational simulations to accelerate and guide the synthesis, assembly, and understanding of the structure-property relationships at multiple length scales (atomic to continuum).
Through the integration of research, mentoring, education, and outreach, MADE in SC will facilitate workforce development by supporting the creation and establishment of needed infrastructure at the participating institutions. Recruitment, mentoring, and retention of diverse scholars at all levels are of paramount importance for programmatic success. Significant investment is proposed in the hiring of 17 new faculty members mentoring 100 graduate students. The broader state-wide impact will be evident from (1) new advanced materials curricula collectively impacting over 400 students, (2) multi-user equipment and facilities, (3) at least 200 undergraduate research experiences, and (4) materials-focused K-12 teacher training and research programs engaging more than 100 teachers. These programs will involve SC’s comprehensive research universities (CRUs), research active predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), the state’s two largest historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs) and a technical college to create transformative outcomes. By combining innovative methodologies to design new materials with human capital development, this initiative will attract, retain and grow a high-quality industrial base with a long-lasting economic impact on SC and the nation, since advanced materials enable a broad range of critically important modern industries, including the aerospace, automotive, biomaterials, and biotechnology sectors.