Materials research at Penn State took another step forward today (May 18) when Gov. Edward G. Rendell released $40 million in state funding for construction of a new Materials Research Building on the University Park campus. The remaining half of the $80 million estimated building cost will come from University funds.
"Penn State is home to one of the largest concentrations of advanced materials scientists in the world," said Carlo G. Pantano, director of Penn State's Materials Research Institute and distinguished professor of materials science and engineering. "The University is by far the number one university in the nation for research expenditures in materials science."
However, due to Penn State's long history of activity in materials research the elements of the program are spread across the University in a large variety of different departments and colleges. The buildings in which materials science is conducted range in age from 50 to 64 years. These buildings require constant renovation to accommodate new nanotechnology instruments, micro- and nano-fabrication, and for bio-materials development and testing.
The new, multi-functional building will centralize shared facilities for materials characterization and testing, nano- and micro-scale fabrication and prototyping and computational design of materials and processes. Primary technical emphasis will be on electronic materials and devices; optical materials and sensors; surfaces, interfaces and coatings; nanoscale science, materials simulation and modeling, and materials synthesis and processing.
"The new state-of-the-art facility that we have planned will spawn discovery and drive innovation by bringing together under one roof faculty and students from a multitude of disciplines, such as chemistry, engineering, biology, medicine, and physics," said Penn State President Graham B. Spanier. "It also will expand our current capabilities, make it easier for industry to access our expertise, allow us to more readily spin out new ventures and help make Pennsylvania a world center for industries using nanotechnology."
"This funding is an investment in the future of education and technology that will fuel cutting-edge research, bring the promise of new jobs and further Pennsylvania's status as a global leader in the biosciences industry," said Gov. Edward G. Rendell. "I value the strong relationship the commonwealth shares with Penn State and the significant, positive role the University continues to play in Pennsylvania's growing economy."
This interdisciplinary facility initially will provide research and support space for 60 researchers, 150 staff members and 200 graduate students. The Materials Research Building will bring together materials researchers from all segments of the University; and provide collaborative opportunities and training in materials for electronics and computer science, telecommunications, energy conservation, transportation, construction and medical industries.
Research is expected to integrate materials with engineering, biological, medical and physical sciences and range from advancing materials understanding in ceramics, polymers, composites and metals to innovations in micro- and nanotechnology. The building will serve as a hub for innovation, outreach to industry and technology-based economic development for the region and the state.