Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials: an NSF MRSEC

The Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials seeks to extend the traditional paradigm of materials research beyond the study of behavior in or near equilibrium to encompass the understanding and control of materials over extended temporal and spatial scales. The Center supports research on nanocomposite materials that combine inorganic and organic components, with applications in energy storage and filtration membranes, and on approaches for exploiting light to achieve dynamic, quantum control of materials. Through the concept of a Materials Community of Practice, the Center integrates interdisciplinary materials research with initiatives in education, outreach, and the promotion of diversity. The Center involves elementary school teachers in materials research to improve teacher efficacy and student engagement with science at a formative age. Outreach to the public via hands-on demonstrations and collaborations between artists and materials researchers brings materials science and technology to new audiences who might not otherwise be engaged. And partnerships with industry and the entrepreneurial community provide participants with experiences and connections to prepare them for success in a broad range of careers. The Center supports two IRGs:

IRG 1, Reconfigurable Porous Nanoparticle Networks, addresses multifunctional, reconfigurable networks of nanoparticles, polymers, and organic molecules that respond to a range of external stimuli. Fundamental principles are elucidated for understanding and controlling the assembly and reconfiguration of nanoparticles connected by molecular linkers, with theoretical and experimental efforts combining to create unique optical, chemical, or biological materials functionality. Research advances in this IRG are expected to enable responsive, reconfigurable materials based on integration of nanoparticles and macromolecules for applications in electronics, energy storage, photonics, and biology.  Learn more

IRG 2, Materials Driven by Light, addresses light-matter interactions that lead to material properties not accessible in equilibrium. Phases and ordered states accessed via light-induced perturbations to energy landscapes, topological material behavior enabled by optical excitation, and formation of exotic quantum phases are explored to provide new understanding of and control over optically responsive materials. Research advances in this IRG are expected to lead to new understanding of material behavior accessible and controllable using temporally structured light, with potential applications in a broad range of technologies for communications and information processing. Learn more


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This graphic shows the materialin its gelled state (left) and its non-gelled state (right). When the materialis heated (right), the chemical bonds between the nanocrystals break and the gel breaks down. When the material is cooled (left), chemical bonds form between the nanocrystals and they organize themselves into a network (the gel).Molecular bonding(top)that controls gelation as a function of temperature is understood using supercomputer simulations (bottom). Credit: Kang, Valenzuela, et al./UT Austin

Versatile ‘nanocrystal gel’ could enable advances in energy, defense and telecommunications

Feb. 18, 2022
New applications in energy, defense and telecommunications could receive a boost after a team from The University of Texas at Austin created a new type of “nanocrystal gel” — a gel composed of tiny nanocrystals each 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair that are linked together into an organized network.
Stephanie present Science Slam

NSF Hosts First-Ever MRSEC Science Slam

Jan. 28, 2022
Transformers are autonomous robots that can repeatedly morph from robot into vehicle. “While our research does not look into developing reconfigurable robots, it encompasses the concept of creating transformable materials,” says Stephanie Valenzuela, graduate research assistant at the University of Texas, Austin. As part of the UT Austin MRSEC program, researchers are creating reconfigurable optical gels that can transform materials using external triggers like heat or light, and in the process, paving the way for the advancement of smart materials. “the Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials at the University of Texas at Austin has innovative research, is extremely collaborate, and has a cohesive community,” says Valenzuela. “I have always taken a lot of pride and had a strong feeling of community at UT Austin’s MRSEC, and it was great to learn that this is something that is embodied with all of the MRSECs across the nation!”
Saldana Lab Photo

RET Alumna Published on

Jan. 13, 2022
RET Alumna, Melissa Saldana published her lesson on "Fun with Leaf Chromatography!"

UT Austin, Texas State University Land NSF Grant for New Materials Center

July 23, 2021
The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials (CDCM), a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), is partnering with Texas State University to establish the Center for Intelligent Materials Assembly. The new center is being developed through an NSF Partnerships for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) grant.