Center for Emergent Materials Awarded 6-Year Renewal by NSF

Congratulations to our colleagues at the Center for Emergent Materials, a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at The Ohio State University, on being awarded a six-year, $17.9 million renewal!



NSF Awards $17.9 Million to Fund Broad-Impact Science

By: Sandi Rutkowski

Published on December 15, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has renewed funding for The Ohio State University’s Center for Emergent Materials (CEM): an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).

The six-year, $17.9 million grant funds Ohio State’s long-term studies of forward-looking new materials.

“This is not about short-term funding that has clearly defined achievable goals. Rather, the focus is on adventurous, foundational research that enables far-reaching technologies. Great science is the heart of this funding,” said P. Christopher Hammel, Ohio Eminent Scholar, physics professor and director of the Center for Emergent Materials.

After a rigorous and highly competitive review process, only 12 MRSECs were funded. These NSF flagship institutions form a national network of top materials research programs at such research institutions as Princeton, Harvard, MIT and Ohio State that are capable of performing complex and ambitious multidisciplinary sciences.

The driving idea behind the MRSEC program is to identify and fund collaborative materials research by teams of researchers from multiple disciplines that have the ability to address difficult, fundamental problems in science and engineering.

These teams, called Interdisciplinary Research Groups, or IRGs, consist of eminent faculty and their students and postdoctoral researchers. Together, they tackle scientific problems that are too large and/or complex for one person or one group to solve.

“This approach allows us to bring together groups of researchers with diverse skill sets and expertise that can handle the challenges of multifaceted scientific issues, integrating materials synthesis and growth, characterization, novel probe development and theory and modeling,” Hammel explained.

The main challenge is to enhance technology and improve energy efficiency through discovery of new materials, novel phases of matter and innovative spin science.

Established by NSF funding in 2008, the Center for Emergent Materials has a recognized track record in diverse fields, which served it well in the renewal process.

The renewal grant funds three Interdisciplinary Research Groups:

Spin-Orbit Coupling in Correlated Materials: Novel Phases and Phenomena, co-led by physicist Nandini Trivedi and chemist Patrick Woodward, with collaborators from Ohio State, Iowa State and the University of Tennessee. The aim is to design a new class of tailored quantum materials with tunable magnetic and electric properties that would impact technology and society.

Control of 2D and 1D Electronic Structure by Surface Functionalization of Group-IV Graphane Analogues, co-led by chemist Joshua Goldberger and physicist Roland Kawakami, with collaborators from Ohio State, UC Berkeley and Case Western Reserve University. Group members are leading experts in creating and manipulating single-atom sheets. The flexibility of these new materials will find broader applications in science and technology, including new opportunities in materials by design, platforms for chemical sensing and information processing.

Nonlinear Interactions between Spin Flux and Engineered Magnetic Textures, co-led by Joseph Heremans, mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics, and physicist Fengyuan Yang, with collaborators from Ohio State, Iowa and UCLA. Group members are leaders in the theory of spin dynamics and dynamic spin transport. This research could enable transformative technologies that move beyond current spintronics concepts and technologies.

Eleven Ohio companies have benefited directly from the availability of cutting-edge materials research tools that the CEM-supported NanoSystems Laboratory provides to university and industrial researchers.

Two of the three projects funded by the NSF grant were developed through the integrated OSU Materials Research Seed Grant Program. Seed grants complement IRG research by supporting emerging developments in materials research and identifying and nurturing future leaders.

The CEM’s education and outreach activities engage groups extending from elementary school students through faculty ranks and include using cognitive research to enhance classroom education and providing undergraduates with immersive, authentic research experiences. Diversity enhancement efforts are tightly interwoven with every activity.

“One of our goals is to increase the quantity and quality of scientists and engineers prepared to contribute to and lead research, development and commercialization in materials-related fields,” Hammel said. “We are absolutely committed to increasing diversity in science and engineering by eliminating barriers to the success of underrepresented groups.”

This article was originally published at the following sites:$179-million-to-fund-broad-impact-science/

Campus Celebrates CEMAS Grand Opening

On Wednesday, September 18, 2013, the campus formally welcomed the newest materials research lab facility, the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS).

CEMAS boasts the highest concentration of high-end microscopes in North America and the center is expected to be ranked among the top ten electron microscopy facilities worldwide, thus elevating the capabilities and status of The Ohio State University’s materials community globally.

This new hub for business and academia materials characterization is home to $28 million of equipment, including 10 FEI electron microscopes, two X-ray diffractometer systems, facilities for nanoindentation, and an extensive array of sample preparation facilities. Researchers from life sciences, physical sciences and engineering will use CEMAS for a wide range of experimentation with full technical support. CEMAS is directed by Dr. David McComb, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Ohio Research Scholar in Nanoscale Materials Characterization, who has worked tirelessly for two years to bring the facility to fruition.

IMR is proud to be a partner with CEMAS, providing funds to support the facility through the Ohio Research Scholars Program award in Technology-Enabling and Emergent Materials, an Ohio Third Frontier award which allowed OSU to recruit Dr. McComb in October 2011 and contribute to the acquisition of the world class instrumentation available today at CEMAS.  The IMR shuttle – which runs ten times a day, every week day – provides convenient, free transportation to OSU researchers wishing to use CEMAS.

$2.54 Million Award Forms Ohio Sensor and Semiconductor Innovation Platform

IMR and Nanotech West Awarded $2.5 Million to Form Ohio Sensor and Semiconductor Innovation Platform (OSSIP)

The state of Ohio’s Innovation Platform Program awarded the Ohio State University Institute for Materials Research (IMR) funding to establish the Ohio Sensor and Semiconductor Innovation Platform (OSSIP) Program, to be centered at OSU’s Nanotech West Lab.  The OSSIP program builds on current and past successes in enabling technology advancement and capitalizes on existing best practices, one-of-a kind infrastructure in Ohio, and already-trained staff engineers and technicians to enable new partner companies to advance near term product development in the area of infrared sensors and semiconductor-based devices and materials.

The $2.54 million, three-year award will partner OSU with Ohio industry to create high-tech jobs in the state.  The initial industrial partners in the program are L-3 / Cincinnati Electronics of Mason, Ohio, and SRICO of Columbus, Ohio.  The partnership with L-3/CE will develop new high-definition infrared (IR) focal plane arrays, while the work with SRICO will develop new sensors based on electro-optic modulators (EOM) and EO materials.  A specific goal of the program is that new products be commercially marketed within the 3 years of the program.

OSSIP leadership includes Principal Investigator Dr. Robert J. Davis, IMR Associate Director and Director of Nanotech West Lab, and co-investigators Dr. Steven A. Ringel, IMR Director and Neal Smith Chair Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Dr. John Carlin, Associate Director of Nanotech West Lab.

Nanotech West Lab is a state-of-the-art and largest micro- and nanofabrication user facility in the state of Ohio.  Nanotech West is home to multiple centers of excellence and focused research groups, numerous industry-university partnerships, collaborations and consortia, and has a substantial track record of supporting and enabling research, development and commercialization of sensors, photovoltaics, electronics and advanced polymers within and outside of OSU.  For more information about OSU’s Nanotech West Lab, visit:

 This award was funded by the Ohio Third Frontier’s Innovation Platform Program (IPP), which supports operating and capital equipment needs to benefit an entrepreneurial and commercial purpose.  IPP collaborations are formed to further the near-term commercialization of specific or platform technologies with significant, defined market opportunities.  A major goal of the Ohio Third Frontier is to build strong commercialization and innovation capabilities and capacities in defined technology areas within the state’s colleges and universities and nonprofit research organizations that support the needs of Ohio industry.

NSF Updates Grant Proposal Guide – Implications for Your Proposals

Effective January 14, 2013, the National Science Foundation has updated its Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG), (NSF 13-1), which includes the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) and the Award & Administration Guide (AAG).  Changes include revisions to the merit review criteria based on recommendations of the National Science Board’s report, “National Science Foundation’s Merit Review Criteria: Review and Revisions.”  

NSF’s changes will impact the preparation of your NSF proposals.  Faculty submitting letters of intent, pre-proposals and/or proposals to NSF are encouraged to take some time to familiarize themselves with the changes when developing their submissions, and should speak with their research administrators well in advance of submission to make sure NSF’s changes are incorporated properly in their materials. 

Resources For Researchers and Administrators

NSF’s Dear Colleague Letter – Issuance of a new NSF Proposal & Award Policies and Procedures Guide (NSF 13-004)  

NSF’s GPG Summary of Changes

NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, January 2013

Summary of Changes

The OSU Office of Research website has compiled some notable changes to NSF’s GPG:

  • Biographical Sketches – The Publications section has been renamed Products. Products may include, but are not limited to, publications, data sets, software, patents and copyrights.
  • Budget – If salary is not being requested for senior personnel, their names must be removed from Section A of the budget.  These senior personnel should still be listed on the cover sheet and their roles on the project described in the Facilities, Equipment and other Resources section of the proposal (see below).
  • Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources – Proposers must now include an aggregated description of the internal and external resources (both physical and personnel) that the organization and its collaborators will provide to the project, should it be funded. The information must be provided in this section, rather than in other parts of the proposal (e.g., budget justification, project description). It should be narrative in nature and must not include any quantifiable financial information. If there are no facilities, equipment or other resources information related to the proposal, a statement should be included in this section.
  • Project Description – Broader impacts must be described in a separate section within the narrative instead of being included as an integral part of the narrative. In addition, Results from Prior NSF Support has been redefined to include current NSF funding, whether or not the support was directly related to the proposal or salary support was provided.
  • Project Summary – The headings for Overview, Intellectual Merit and Broader are no longer required since FastLane has been modified to display three separate text boxes where the information should be provided. Note that proposals not containing all three elements of the Project Summary will be returned without review.
  • References Cited – If there are no references cited, a statement to that effect should be included in this section.
  • Review Criteria – this section has been replaced by an expanded Merit Review Principles and Criteria section.
  • Indirect Costs – NSF has elected to use grantee institutions’ predetermined overhead rates in most instances. NSF program staff is not authorized to suggest or request that PIs seek reduction or waivers of indirect cost.

CEM Renewal – Now Scheduling IRGs

The Center for Emergent Materials, Ohio State’s NSF MRSEC program, is beginning the renewal process and is considering IRGs to be included.  This is a collaborative effort, and mandatory IRG presentations will take place during the Electronic and Magnetic Nanoscale Composite Multifunctional Materials (ENCOMM) meeting times in November and December.

If your research group is considering putting together a potential Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG), please read about the process below and visit CEM’s website here:

The message below was sent out in early October from the Directors of the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM), the Electronic and Magnetic Nanoscale Composite Multifunctional Materials (ENCOMM) and the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) regarding the upcoming renewal process for the CEM, Ohio State’s NSF MRSEC program.


The CEM, currently composed of two IRGs, has just completed four years of its six year term; it is now time to start preparing a proposal for a second six-year cycle of funding. The Ohio State materials community has the breadth to generate a compelling proposal for a Center larger than our current composition; we envision proposing up to four IRGs for the renewed Center.

We anticipate that the white paper for this competition will be due in one year, so now is the time to begin working toward identifying and building the IRGs that we will propose. We find that one of the most challenging aspects of putting together a successful IRG proposal is forming a team that meets the MRSEC programs expectations: researchers collaborating to conduct cutting-edge research of such scale and complexity that it can only be accomplished in a center environment.

CEM’s renewal process, which we emphasize is separate from the proto-IRG or other seed funding competition, will commence in October 2012 with presentations to the materials community by prospective IRGs in which they outline their proposed scientific project. These presentations will take place during the ENCOMM meetings to be held Wednesday afternoons from 4:15-5:15 in PRB 4138. These meetings will run through the end of the calendar year. Proposals to be one of the IRGs that comprise the eventual NSF proposal will be due to the CEM on January 4, 2013. (Proposals will be submitted to Stephanie Arend,; more details on the proposal process will be available on the CEM website soon.)

The goals of these meetings will be to help teams identify and recruit key team members, provide feedback on the proposed project goals, scientific approach and team composition, and to make them more competitive for the MRSEC program.

We encourage prospective IRGs to start preparing immediately, and to contact Amanda Zuurdeeg at to schedule a date for the presentation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me ( if you have questions.

As we are using multiple listservs to ensure broad dissemination you may receive more than one copy of this email.  We apologize if so.

Best regards,

Chris Hammel, CEM Director

Zeke Johnston-Halperin, ENCOMM Director

Steve Ringel, IMR Director