Distributed September 27, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Janet Kerlin

NSF awards Brown $7 million for materials and engineering center

The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Brown University has been awarded $7 million by the National Science Foundation. Current research at Brown explores the mechanics of materials used in electronic devices and the mechanics of materials with complex microstructures.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The National Science Foundation has awarded $7 million to Brown University to continue its Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. The five-year grant will support the research of 17 faculty members in the Division of Engineering, including staff, educational and industrial programs, laboratories and equipment.

The goal of Brown’s center is to perform fundamental research in the mechanics of materials that will improve technology for a wide range of industries. Current work at Brown explores the role of mechanics in materials used for electronic devices that are designed at the nanoscale, a length that is 1/500th the diameter of the human hair.

Brown researchers also explore the mechanics of materials with complex microstructures – titanium-based materials for the aircraft engine industry, for example, and liquid crystal-based materials for display applications such as laptop screens.

Educational outreach programs will also be supported by the NSF funds. Brown engineering undergraduates and faculty have presented demonstrations at area schools, and Brown conducts an annual institute to teach secondary school teachers how to make use of these demonstrations in the classroom. The grant also will support a summer research experience for minority university students in cooperation with Hampton University in Hampton, Va.

Brown is one of 11 universities with existing materials centers that received grants totaling $110 million.

“The grant is recognition that Brown is a leader in materials research and has made distinguished contributions in this field,” said Clyde Briant, director of the center. “Brown is noted for combining research in solid mechanics and materials science. Pioneering work has been done in the past in the areas of fracture mechanics, computational methods for solid mechanics and materials science, and studies of high strain rate behavior. We are confident that our new research will continue in this fine tradition.”