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New, slippery toilet coating provides cleaner flushing, saves water

3D printed microswimmers with multi-responsive behaviors

Fabrication of New Photonic Liquid Crystals Could Lead to Next Generation Displays and Advanced Photonic Applications

Biological material boosts solar cell performance

Big Improvements in Thin-film Solar Cell Efficiency Now Possible

Research News

Nov 19 2019

Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%? 

The possibility may exist through research conducted at Penn State, released today (Nov. 18) in Nature Sustainability. 

Nov 15 2019

Microscopic tiny swimmers shaped like donuts promise a wide range of application options: Fabricated with Nanoscribe’s 3D Microfabrication technology, they can move with their own propulsion and are able to transport particles to a desired location. Moreover, the 3D printed microtori can manipulate other microscopic swimming objects. Within an international research project scientists outlined the complex dynamics that chemically- and magnetically-driven microtori can unfold.

Nov 8 2019

A new technique to change the structure of liquid crystals could lead to the development of fast-responding liquid crystals suitable for next generation displays, for example 3-D, augmented and virtual reality and advanced photonic applications such as mirrorless lasers, bio-sensors and fast/slow light generation, according to an international team of researchers from Penn State, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan.

360 Virtual Tour of Our Labs

From anywhere, from any device, visit some of our labs virtually. Walk through the Nanofab Lab, the MCL X-ray Diffraction Lab, and the NanoSEM Lab.

History of Materials at Penn State

Millennium Café

“How Biomolecules Affect Photovoltaic Cell Performance”

Photovoltaic cells using efficient and cheap photoactive materials such as halide perovskite represents as a clean technology for future energy deployment. We found some natural existing biomolecules can be actively involved in the perovskite photovoltaic cells, triggering various effects in either improving the solar cell performance or leading to other opportunities such as efficient solar-thermal conversion. I will show some examples and discuss the potential in this direction.

“If I Only Had a Brain…Investigating how Bacteria Sense and Respond to their Environment”

The ability of bacteria to sense and respond to their environment allows for regulation of intracellular pathways that alter key characteristics, such as growth, metabolism, and virulence; however, our knowledge of the (bio)chemistry underlying many of these processes is still very minimal. Understanding these chemical signals and signaling pathways dictates our ability to develop new methods to alter bacterial characteristics, such as decreasing bacterial within an infected host, selectively targeting a single species of bacteria to alter a microbiome, or engineering pathways to reprogram bacteria for novel functions. Using tools from chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, my group is working to develop novel insights about how bacteria sense and respond to changes in their environment.

This will be the final Millennium Cafe of 2019. The Cafe will begin again in January.

Focus on Materials Magazine

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The Materials Research Institute

A Culture of Interdisciplinary Research

Penn State’s investment in its interdisciplinary research institutes, including the Materials Research Institute (MRI), has created a culture of strong collaborations across disciplines. At Penn State, many researchers have the support of both their academic departments and the university-wide institutes, such as MRI. By encouraging crosscutting research, MRI and its sister institutes open up traditional silos of knowledge to the stimulus of other viewpoints and new ideas. This mingling of disciplines, often called “convergence,” brings together the physical and life sciences with engineering and computation to solve the most complex problems facing society today and in the future.

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Four Lab Solution: Theory, Synthesis, Fabrication, Characterization

NSF MIP Materials Innovation Platform
2D Crystal Consortium (2DCC)

The 2DCC-MIP is focused on advancing the synthesis of 2D materials within the context of a national user facility.

The Materials Characterization Lab
Materials Characterization Lab

The Materials Characterization Lab (MCL) is a fully-staffed, open access, analytical research facility charged with enabling research and educating the next generation of highly qualified researchers.

The Materials Computation Center
Materials Computation Center

Our primary goal is to support internal and external users working in computer-based simulations of materials across the various length and time scales.

The Nanofabrication Lab
Nanofabrication Lab

Our staff scientists and engineers will enable users to transition fundamental research in nanomaterials to innovation-driven multicomponent integrated devices and systems.

New Capabilities & Emerging Materials Research

Humanitarian Materials
Humanitarian Materials Engineering

Socially responsible engineering in the developing regions of the world

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Industry and University Collaboration

Every organization has different priorities and resources. Directors of the MRI facilities recognizes this and help your company leverage our labs in various ways.
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