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Program Highlights

Facilities Development: Combined Ultrasonic and Scanning Probe Imaging

In addition to providing access to state-of-the-art commercially available instruments, the Northwestern University MRSEC Shared Facilities also participate in the development of new experimental methods and tools. In particular, the Ultrasound Bioprobe has been developed that combines the noninvasive nature and sensitivity of ultrasound waves with a near-field atomic force microscope mechanical probe that provides high phase sensitivity and mechanical contrast of the scattered ultrasound wave.


Engineering Transdisciplinary Outreach Program in the Arts (ETOPiA)


Engineering Transdisciplinary Outreach Program in the Arts (ETOPiA) is a Northwestern University MRSEC education and outreach program that uses theater and film media to inspire a cross-disciplinary dialogue about the role of science and technology in society and to highlight some of the ethical and moral implications of scientific and technological progress.


Interrogating Anthropological Mummy Relics with the Tools of Materials Science

The Northwestern University MRSEC supported the new exhibition Paint the Eyes Softer: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt at the Northwestern University Block Museum. The exhibit explores the art and science of mummy relics from the Fayum region in Egypt during the Roman period.


Discovering and Designing New Materials Using Directed Evolution

In a new seed project within the Northwestern University MRSEC, a novel approach for discovering and designing materials is being developed using directed evolution. While directed evolution approaches have been successfully applied in areas such as therapeutics or catalysis, this strategy has not been fully explored in materials science and engineering.


Harnessing Mixed Anion Materials for Novel Magnetic Properties

Precise synthetic control of the local electronic structure of metal centers within materials offers the potential to realize exotic physical properties. In particular, tuning the electronic structure of metal centers enables the creation of strongly correlated electron systems, enabling the exploration of fundamental questions about magnetism and superconductivity.


Polyhedral Assembly of Heteroanionic Materials

A route has been formulated that leverages heteroleptic building units to lift inversion symmetry in heteroanionic materials from balancing short-range and long-range interactions favoring octahedral tilting in perovskite-derived structures. The resulting increase in the number of noncentrosymmetric (NCS) materials is important for improving the performance of compounds found in actuator, imaging, and data storage technologies.


Computational Discovery of New Oxychalcogenide Compounds

High-throughput density functional theory (DFT) calculations are used to accelerate the discovery of new oxychalcogenide compounds. In particular, experimentally-known crystal structures are decorated with essentially all possible combinations of elements in the periodic table, generating thousands of potential compounds.


Electronic Coupling in Organic-Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Heterojunctions

Heterojunctions containing two-dimensional materials can give rise to unique effects at the interface or enhance existing optical properties of the composite layers. Using organic molecules in these heterojunctions has the advantage to enable synthetically tunable electronic and optical properties.


Reconfigurable 2D Materials with Neuromorphic Functionality

Solid-state electronics and advanced computation has spurred significant interest in artificial intelligence and neuromorphic (i.e., brain-like) computing. However, the deterministic correlations between input and action in conventional silicon microelectronics are not well-matched to information processing in biological systems.


Forward-looking Metalens

Inspired by the human eye, a team led by Clarke at the Harvard MRSEC has reported in Science Advances an adaptive metalens that is a flat, electronically-controlled artificial eye. This new lens which combines breakthroughs in artificial muscle and lens technologies simultaneously controls focus, astigmatism, and image shift.