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The complex mystery of membranes: researchers find controlling the nanoscale structure of membranes is key for clean water

Fibrous protein finding may lead to improved bioprinting, tissue engineering

Stretchable micro-supercapacitors to self-power wearable devices

2D materials center ready to move to new phase, add industry partners

Three Penn State researchers win 2020 Rustum and Della Roy Awards

MRI Labs Open

Penn State is cautiously reopening its research labs and MRI is inviting industry and other universities who may not have reopened to make use of our Nanofabrication Facility, our Materials Characterization Laboratory, and the Materials Computation Center.

Please visit our website for information regarding these laboratories' capabilities and for contact information for the appropriate expert staff. For further information on MRI's and Penn State's response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Read full details here →


Per the Department of the State, the arrival of all visitors, visiting scholars, and post-docs who were expected to arrive prior to August 1, 2020 will be asked to reschedule their visits until further notice.

Research News

Dec 17 2020

Fibrous proteins such as collagen and fibrinogen form a thin solid layer on the surface of an aqueous solution similar to the “skin” that forms on warm milk, according to a team of Penn State Researchers, who believe this finding could lead to more efficient bioprinting and tissue engineering.

Dec 11 2020

A stretchable system that can harvest energy from human breathing and motion for use in wearable health-monitoring devices may be possible, according to an international team of researchers, led by Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development Professor in Penn State's Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

Dec 7 2020

The Center for Atomically Thin Multifunctional Coatings (ATOMIC), a center focused on the study and development of 2D materials that is part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) project, is preparing to move from Phase I to Phase II of the program.

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

“Plant Motion as Inspiration for Biomimetic Materials Systems and Structures for a Greener Technology in the Anthropocene” – Part I in the Living Materials Series

During the last decades, biomimetics has attracted increasing attention from basic and applied researchers from various disciplines and industries to include building construction. Novel methods for analyzing and simulating the form-structure-function-relation on various hierarchical levels allow fascination insights in multi-scale mechanics of biological materials systems, and new production methods enable for the first time the transfer of many outstanding properties of the biological role models into innovative biomimetic products for reasonable costs. This is shown for three examples based on plant motion, including bio-inspired self-repairing materials and façade shading systems.

“Examining our Daily Energy Use and Carbon Emissions – What you can and Cannot Control” – Part I in the Energy University Series

Do you know how many kWh your home uses every day or the energy content of a gallon of gasoline? How do those amounts of energy relate to 2000 Calories you eat every day, and the amount of CO2 you emit? The world needs to reduce CO2 emissions by ~ 1000 gigaton (Gt) of carbon over the next 30 years, but what can you do about that on your own? How does a Gt even make sense in your own life in terms of your energy sources and consumption? The first step understanding these numbers is to quantify the energy you use every day for your home, commute to work, entertainment, and travel.  The second step to make this relevant to climate change is to translate that energy use into CO2 emissions that have meaning to you. In this talk I show how we can easily frame all these numbers based on a bottom line: the energy in food we eat for one day, and how much CO2 we release from eating that food. When energy is expressed using these numbers, we can see how important using a gallon of gasoline is relative to energy use for our home, travel, and all the energy use and carbon emissions that go into just putting that food on the table. 

The Millennium Café endeavors to continue connecting our amazingly diverse research community even when we cannot meet in person. Consider connecting digitally to continue exchanging ideas and challenges, we are always better together.

Current Lab Rules at MSC


Focus on Materials Magazine

SENSORS: We are living in a world where sensors are ubiquitous and growing exponentially. The much talked about internet of things (IoT), in which sensors talk to humans and to other machines, is based on millions, even billions of different types of reliable and cost-effective sensors.
At Penn State, sensor research is in a kind of renaissance. In fact, this is the first Focus on Materials to have a theme issue on sensors in 15 years.

To receive a FREE printed issue, subscribe to "Printed Materials" and add/update your mailing address.

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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.

Request a Tour of the MSC

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

Complex metal parts made by additive manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing

"When it comes to U.S. manufacturing, we've lost our swagger, but additive manufacturing will get it back."

Materials-Related Institutes, Facilities, & Centers




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Industry and University Collaboration

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