Materials science research at Texas State University-San Marcos is poised to become a national leader in the developing field of multifunctional materials, thanks to a grant of $4 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The grant was announced Nov. 17 at the annual Ready for Commercialization conference in Austin.
The grant will be used to operate and staff a newly established center for the research, development and commercialization of multifunctional materials to drive the development and innovation for the next generation of devices used in the fields of energy, security and health.
The establishment of the materials growth facility has been a priority of Texas State President Denise Trauth and Provost Perry Moore.
Trauth said, “This is a momentous event for Texas State. It takes us to a new level of prestige within the research community and allows us to better serve our students and the state of Texas.”
Tom Myers, professor and director of the MSE program, said, “The establishment of this materials growth capability at Texas State will allow us to attract additional world class researchers, especially those with an interest in solving real-world problems that have commercial applications and societal impact.”
The term “multifunctional materials” refers to the use of a material or class of materials for multiple functions. Information processing and high-density, light-weight information storage are applications that could reap immediate benefits from the field of study, but other, more diverse uses include more efficient solar power generation and entirely new classical and quantum approaches to computing and communication. The federal government has even expressed interest in sophisticated, next-generation sensors that could be developed from this research for homeland security purposes.
Terry Golding, holder of the University Chair in Materials Science and Engineering, and director of Texas State’s Center for Research Commercialization, said, “This will give Texas State an unprecedented capability in terms of different types of electronics materials that can be produced and researched. In effect, this immediately places Texas State at the center of multifunctional materials research.”
The MSE program is a collaborative effort involving the chemistry, biochemistry, physics, technology and engineering programs at Texas State, as well as the Nanomaterials Application Center, the Center for Nanophase Research, the Center for Coatings and Biobased Technology and the Institute for Environmental and Industrial Science.
Gary Beall, associate professor of chemistry and associate director of the MSE Program, said, “The interdisciplinary research fostered by the study of multifunctional materials is also having a strong impact on student education, allowing them to be a better prepared resource for emerging high-tech industries within the State of Texas.”
One of the key roles of the MSE program is to nurture and expand the expertise and talent necessary to foster new fields, industries and technologies. Research conducted within the program will have an immediate impact on the Texas economy, and is expected to attract additional federal research funding as it produces new commercial endeavors in support of civilian, defense and security applications.
“Such developments are at the forefront of current science and technology and promise to provide breakthroughs that can strengthen current industries and facilitate the emergence of entirely new industries,” said Bill Covington, associate vice president for research and federal affairs.
The multifunctional materials center has also been supported by equipment gifts from Freescale Semiconductor and Motorola.
Freescale Semiconductor donated a molecular beam epitaxy tool and related equipment valued at more than $4 million. Motorola has donated a dual chamber production type molecular beam epitaxy system in support of the materials science program at Texas State.
The grant from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund was made as part of the program’s Research Superiority Acquisition effort. Priority for ETF Research Superiority Acquisition is given to proposals that involve scientific or technical fields that have a reasonable probability of enhancing the state’s national and global economic competitiveness, may result in a medical or scientific breakthrough, are interdisciplinary, have or may attract federal and other outside funding for research superiority, and are likely to create a nationally or internationally recognized locus of research superiority.
by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service