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, Fuel-Driven Pluripotent Materials will design and realize pluripotent materials – materials whose morphology and functionality can be actively controlled via suitable environmental inputs – based on both nanocrystal and biopolymer networks. Inspired by stem cells that can differentiate to take on distinct structures and functions, IRG 1 will design and synthesize materials whose polymorphic structures are accessed by kinetically controlled fueling processes proceeding along designed, out-of-equilibrium pathways. Chemical or optical fueling will push an assembly energetically uphill to non-equilibrium states, which spontaneously relax to their initial structures or generate new assemblies as the fuel is depleted. Adapting fueled mechanisms to synthetic materials will expand the range of adaptive functionalities, including optical, rheological, and contractile properties, that are not found in nature. These endeavors will facilitate technologies for energy efficiency, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology. For example, mid-infrared thermal barriers require multiple optical states and response times to achieve camouflaging. In addition, soft, flexible materials with different configurations accessed via energy inputs offer outstanding potential for actuated motion in soft robotics. A team spanning five academic departments with expertise in organic chemistry, polymer and biomolecular materials, materials simulation, nanomaterials synthesis, and ultrafast optical characterization of materials will collaborate to create new classes of actively controllable soft nanomaterials.  Learn more

IRG 2, Engineered Functionality in Atomically Thin Heterostructures addresses new material properties and functionalities enabled by engineered symmetries and patterns created through heterogeneous integration of atomically thin and molecular materials. Such structures offer exciting possibilities for exploring topology, correlations, and light-matter coupling in materials, with potential applications in electronics, photonics, and both classical and quantum information processing.  We aim to address a set of key questions at the intersection of strong electron-electron interactions and non-trivial topology in different classes of moiré systems. Fundamental investigations of new quantum phases and targeted efforts to engineer new functionality in van der Waals heterostructures in the areas of (1) theory-led search for moiré systems with tunable correlations, (2) assembly and characterization of van der Waals heterostructures with tailored energy bands and correlations; and (3) electronic and photonic structures that harness the unique properties of moiré materials.  Learn more


Featured News

Frances Camille Wu, a graduate research assistant in the Microelectronics Research Center, uses a microscope to study electronic devices in a clean room at the Pickle Research Campus in Austin, Texas.

The Future of Materials Is One Step Closer

July 26, 2023
A technological leap sits on the horizon, with exciting capabilities like quantum computing, soft robotics and more coming down the pike. To bring these ideas to reality will require engineering new classes of materials that make up their building blocks. The Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials at The University of Texas at Austin has been on the leading edge of materials development for the past six years. With a fresh infusion of funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the center will turn its attention to new research thrusts that will bring to life materials with enhanced properties and capabilities.

NSF invests $162 million in research centers to accelerate materials science from lab to factory

June 26, 2023
The Center for Dynamics and Control of Materials is one of nine MRSEC receiving funding for 6 years.
From left: Jennifer Maynard, Jason McLellan, Delia Milliron and Sriram Vishwanath

4 Professors Among National Academy of Inventors’ Top Members

Feb. 24, 2023
Dr. Delia Milliron is one of four professors at UT Austin named National Academy of Intervenors' Top Members
seth bank

Seth Bank Named 2023 Optica Fellow

Nov. 8, 2022
Dr. Seth Bank has been elected to the 2023 class of OpticaFellows "for pioneering work on the growth of optoelectronic materials by molecular beam epitaxy." Bank becomes the 7th current Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty member to be named an Optica Fellow.