Innovation Institute Formed to Develop Advanced Materials

Emerging technologies depend on sophisticated new materials, but that process can take as long as two decades. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is tackling today's materials challenges through creation of the interdisciplinary Wisconsin Materials Innovation Institute (WIMII). On June 24, 2013, the White House named UW-Madison a partner institution in its Materials Genome Initiative for Global Competitiveness, a national effort to double the speed with which the country discovers, develops and manufactures new materials.

“Whether we’re talking about high-efficiency, high-temperature jet engines, solar cells that generate electricity as inexpensively as coal, wind turbines that use magnets free of rare-earth elements, or the biocompatibility of replacement joints and implants, materials matter,” says Cyrus Wadia, assistant director for clean energy and materials R&D in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “The Materials Genome Initiative is catalyzing important collaborative advances from industry, academia and the federal government, so that together we can secure the nation’s future as a leader in this critical technological domain.”

A cross-disciplinary technological hub, WIMII will provide infrastructure for researchers in such areas as mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, information science, chemistry, medicine and engineering and create synergy among materials researchers at UW-Madison and elsewhere. Researchers in the institute will interact with a variety of new and existing university, governmental and industrial partners to form the tools, teams and technologies needed to dramatically enhance U.S. materials innovation.

In the past, researchers created materials with new functions or forms simply by processing existing compounds or materials in different ways. However, as manufacturing and technological demands increase, researchers now need to develop capabilities that allow them to understand and design completely new materials at the atomic and molecular levels.

An increasing fraction of patents for new materials comes from outside the United States and U.S. researchers are at a competitive disadvantage in developing transformative materials that are discovered outside the country. WIMII is supporting the U.S. Materials Genome Initiative to ensure the country continues to lead in materials innovation.

 

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