Newswise — On March 1, the National Science Foundation announced the creation of a new Center for Dielectrics and Piezoelectrics (CDP) co-located at Penn State and North Carolina State University. The new center builds on and expands the research capabilities of the long-running Center for Dielectrics Studies (CDS) based at Penn State.
The National Science Foundation will provide $830,000 over five years in support of operations and infrastructure, with additional funding coming from member companies and organizations. The new center is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC), with 18 inaugural industry partners.
“The timing was right to build for a longer term future by establishing many new partnerships and leveraging old partnerships that are undergoing change themselves,” remarked Professor Clive Randall, who directed the CDS at Penn State for 16 years and serves as co-director of the new center. For more than 30 years, the CDS has maintained an international reputation for helping industry improve materials and manufacturability in multilayer ceramic capacitors, a key component of many consumer electronics and automotive products.
The new center will expand its outreach to industry and move into new fields of research with multidisciplinary teams at both universities engaging in research in advanced dielectrics and piezoelectrics, which they will in turn transfer to CDP members in support of new products and processes. Areas of research are expected to include high energy-density electrochemical capacitors for power electronics and the energy grid; dielectrics with low-temperature processing for flexible electronics, an anticipated $250 billion market by 2025; capacitors for extreme environments; polymer nanocomposite dielectrics to enhance energy storage density and improve insulation for power distribution; and piezotronic transistors, a possible replacement for silicon-based electronics. There are multiple materials science and engineering challenges and opportunities for these exciting new industrial problems.
“Materials for high temperature capacitors are key to developing next generation power devices, such as the devices that are the focus of the Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which was announced by President Obama at NC State in January,” explained Beth Dickey, director of the CDP and a professor of materials science and engineering at NC State. Faculty experts from Penn State are drawn from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Engineering Science and Mechanics, Mechanical Engineering, Energy and Mineral Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Susan Trolier-McKinstry, a professor in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State and a thrust leader in the center added, “The teams at Penn State and NC State have a robust history of collaboration between institutions, as well as with industry. The combination of materials expertise brought by the participants with the excellent characterization and fabrication facilities available offers the opportunity to bring about major advances. We look forward to being able to move this field forward with our industry partners.”
The Materials Research Institute (MRI) provides leadership both at Penn State and in the materials community worldwide, coordinating materials-related activities, maintaining core and shared facilities, training students, and fostering collegial exchanges of expertise. Visit our website at mri.psu.edu.