NSF DMR Award #0819860

The Princeton Center for Complex Materials (PCCM), a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Princeton University, brings together researchers from five science and engineering departments to address pressing questions in interdisciplinary materials research. PCCM employs an integrated team approach in which experiment, theory, and simulation combine to underpin every interdisciplinary research group (IRG); each IRG is further enhanced by substantial industrial and international collaborations. The Center is committed to the integration of its forefront research with science and engineering education, extending from the postdoctoral and graduate levels, through its Partnership for Research and Education in Materials with California State University at Northridge and a vibrant Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, to serving as a regional resource for K-12 education in materials. 

The Center has four interdisciplinary research groups. IRG A investigates two groups of unusual electronic materials, both of which show superior thermoelectric performance at low temperatures and suggest novel electronics applications. The first group includes a broad range of conducting oxides with a triangular-lattice structure, motivated by findings on sodium cobaltate revealing a rich array of electronic states. The second group includes "Dirac materials," such as graphene and bismuth-antimony alloys, which will allow direct examination of a theorized quantum state of matter, the topological insulator. IRG B executes a multidisciplinary investigation of molecular interfaces formed by non-traditional methods, such as stamping, printing, lamination, and laser-induced deposition. These fabrication techniques are moving towards applications in large-area and disposable electronic, light emission, and energy conversion and storage devices based on organic materials, yet very little is presently known of the interfaces they produce. IRG C focuses on integrating self-assembling nanoscale building blocks, such as large organic molecules, inorganic nanoparticles, and block copolymer nanodomains, into defined structures of macroscopic dimensions for applications as diverse as electron emitter arrays and photovoltaic cells. Self-assembly is an economical and rapid fabrication approach, and integrating self-assembled nanostructures into larger-scale units offers fundamental scientific challenges to accompany these technological opportunities. IRG D aims to create new materials systems with functionality derived from control of quantum degrees of freedom, such as the interaction of carriers with surfaces and defects, coherent charge and spin transport, and processes which limit the efficiency of coherent light emission. By integrating nanostructure fabrication capabilities, novel high-frequency and nanoscale characterization tools, and low-dimensional semiconductor theory, researchers will significantly advance understanding of, and ability to control, quantum phenomena for applications ranging from spin electronics, quantum electronics, and quantum cascade lasers. 

In materials education, PCCM's goals are threefold: 1) to educate a diverse group of agile Ph.D. graduates and postdoctoral researchers, who will form the next generation of materials faculty and industrial researchers, 2) to provide REU experiences for a broad set of non-Princeton undergraduates, especially students from non-Ph.D.-granting institutions, women, and underrepresented minority groups, and 3) to serve as a regional resource for K-12 materials education, leveraged via partnerships with other New Jersey organizations. Impact evaluation is a key aspect of all educational programs. Technology transfer to industry is facilitated through workshops and through the research collaborations with industrial researchers that are part of each IRG, and through an early-stage technologies program to develop Princeton inventions prior to transfer. The open-access shared experimental facilities established and supported by PCCM serve as a vital research resource for the region, with a broad user base spanning academic, nonprofit, and industrial laboratories.

NSF Award details