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MIT Materials Day Symposium 2017: Frontiers in Materials Research

By: , Posted on: December 6, 2017

Editorial project manager Jennifer Pierce sums up this year’s MIT Materials Day Symposium

Dr. Julia Phillips opened the symposium with a discussion on advances in materials science since the end of World War II, noting that materials science was an early model for interdisciplinary research. Central to this discussion were the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering, a commitment by over 120 US engineering schools to “educate a new generation of engineers expressly equipped to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing society in the 21st century.” Dr. Phillips argued that the Grand Challenges include themes that will inform a new “materials revolution,” including sustainability, healthcare, reducing threats, and increasing human capability. She emphasized that in order to fully achieve these goals, interdisciplinary research across all areas is key, including engagement with the arts and social sciences.

Dr. Phillips’s remarks set the stage for presentations by MIT faculty identified as a new generation of leaders in materials research; many of these speakers were involved in interdisciplinary research with a wide range of important applications. Dr. A. John Hart spoke about developments in the area of additive manufacturing, highlighting two projects from his research group. The first of these projects involved building a high speed desktop 3D printer by inventing a print head with a higher extrusion force. This printer is between 3 and 10 times faster than the existing technologies, producing handheld polymer and composite parts in 5 to 10 minutes. The second project offers a solution to microstructural control limitations during fabrication of free-standing 3D shapes by combining bottom-up and top-down approaches. In addition to improving productivity and processes, these advances offer potential for combining materials processing with manufacturing. Dr. Hart also noted that current developments in additive manufacturing offer exciting new opportunities for entrepreneurship and commercial development, and that additive manufacturing is longer limited to conventional 3D printing with conventional materials provided by the marketplace.

Dr. Polina Anikeeva discussed applications of fiber-based fabrication methods for polymers, metals, and composites. Her current research involves the design of minimally invasive devices that enable local delivery of drugs and genetic constructs into nervous systems of freely-moving subjects. These devices are based on softer polymers “masquerading as part of the body” and can enable electrophysiological recording and optical modulation of neural activities. This research offers potential for new opportunities in the fields of materials science, biomedical engineering, and neuroscience.

A merger between MIT’s Materials Processing Center and Center for Materials Science and Engineering was announced during the panel discussion. The new Materials Research Laboratory will “encompass research on energy conversion/storage, quantum materials, spintronics, photonics, metals, integrated microsystems, materials sustainability, solid-state ionics, complex oxide electronic properties, biogels, and functional fibers.” With a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, the Materials Research Laboratory will allow industry, manufacturers, and the academic community to collaborate. Panel participants shared the research topics and advances they are most excited about, including machining, multifunctional materials, and nanoscale.

The day concluded with poster sessions, which were an exciting opportunity to learn about students’ research projects. These projects encompassed a wide range of interdisciplinary topics, applications, and approaches including environmental sustainability and biomedicine.

Related Titles:

  • Demonstrates how nanostructures are successfully employed in drug delivery stems and as drug delivery agents, allowing biomaterials scientists and biochemists to create more effective drug delivery systems
  • Offers an overview of recent research into the use of nanostructures in drug delivery techniques in a cogent, synthesized way, allowing readers to quickly familiarize themselves with this area
  • Includes examples of how the application of nanostructures have improved the efficiency of drug delivery systems, showing medical scientists how they are beneficial

  • Focuses on biomedical applications of bioresorbable polymers
  • Features a comprehensive range of topics including fundamentals, synthesis, processing, and applications
  • Provides balanced coverage of the field with contributions from academia and industry
  • Includes clinical and R and D applications of bioresorbable polymers for biomedical applications

  • Provides a comprehensive one-volume overview of advances in laser additive manufacturing
  • Presents detailed coverage of the latest techniques used for laser additive manufacturing
  • Reviews both established and emerging areas of application

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