ME, MSE researchers lead 3 projects in agency’s new round of advanced materials grants.

Researchers at Georgia Tech will work to develop new controllable materials for 3D printing, electronics made from plastics, and semiconductors that convert infrared light into electrical signals as part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) efforts to create advanced materials.

Altogether, the agency is investing $3 million in the three projects led by faculty members in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering (ME) and the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). Georgia Tech is a contributing partner on a fourth project led by Notre Dame researchers to explore materials that can be switched from an insulator to a metal with an external trigger.

The new awards are part of NSF’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future (DMREF) program, which is intended to discover and create advanced materials twice as fast and at a fraction of the cost of traditional research methods.


Plastic Electronics

MSE School Chair Natalie Stingelin’s NSF project will use machine learning and artificial intelligence tools to accelerate development of electronic materials based on plastics. The goal is to improve what has been essentially a trial-and-error process to develop such materials, with hopes of designing new kinds of sustainable technologies.

These modern polymer semiconductors could enable new ways of harvesting solar energy, lighting large areas, or building new kinds of sensors and computers. For example, semi-transparent solar cells in greenhouses could allow for sustainable, zero-energy agriculture or for smart, controllable heat management when used in cars and buildings. Or perhaps next-generation sensors could be integrated into tattoos.

“These technologies have been improving over the past decades, aided by advancements in materials chemistry and processing innovations. However, classical descriptions to understand their functions are outdated and cannot be applied to these new ‘green’ plastics. Our project aims to change this,” Stingelin said. “Using machine learning to build a knowledge base that can predict the materials assembly and their properties will lead to a step change in how we use — and manufacture — these types of semiconductors.”

Stingelin’s team includes co-principal investigator and MSE Professor Seung Soon Jang.

Read the full article: $3M NSF Investment Will Create New Semiconductor, 3D Printing Materials (