The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter, the LRSM, is the center for materials research at the University of Pennsylvania. It was established in 1960 as one of the first Materials Research Laboratories to be funded by the forerunner of DARPA. In 1972 funding was taken over by the National Science Foundation's Division of Materials Research, NSF-DMR under the aegis of the MRL program. In 1996, the core of the materials research program at the LRSM was supported as a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, MRSEC, funded by an NSF-DMR. The current MRSEC grant (DMR-1120901) supports the interdisciplinary research of affiliated faculty from three Schools: Arts & Sciences (Chemistry, Physics & Astronomy), Engineering & Applied Sciences (Bioengineering, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Electrical & Systems Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering & Applied Mechanics) and Medicine (Physiology, Biochemistry & Biophysics). These faculty members are organized into four Interdisciplinary Research Groups, IRGs, each having 6-8 members, which cover the following areas of research:

  • Geometric Routes to Soft Assembly and Dynamics
  • Biologically-inspired Janus-dendrimer Assemblies
  • Mechanical Failure of Disordered Packings
  • Controlled Function in Inter-dimensional Materials

Smaller groups of faculty are funded through 'seed' programs in which promising new areas of research are explored. The MRSEC at the LRSM provides state-of-the-art Shared Experimental Facilities, which play a vital role in MRSEC research and in promoting collaborations & outreach to the materials community. The MRSEC will continue to develop and support SEFs in-house and at National Labs. The LRSM provides education & outreach in the "research" context through programs that target students at all levels from K-12 to post-docs, teachers, small college faculty, regional academic, industrial & governmental scientists, the international scientific community, and the general public. A primary goal of our education and human resources development effort is to attract more Americans to STEM fields and take them to the highest educational level possible, with emphasis on underrepresented minorities, women, and the disabled. A second goal is to educate the general public about important ideas in materials science & engineering and about the societal relevance of the materials field.

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