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Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) UPENN

The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) at the University of Pennsylvania is a center of excellence for materials research and education. It facilitates collaboration between researchers from different disciplines ? physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology ? to advance transformative scientific projects and solve societal challenges. One research effort takes inspiration from the brain?s ability to learn, designing new materials that can adapt to their surroundings and complex stimuli. Potential applications range from making flexible materials that can deflect the energy of a hammer blow to creating soft robots that can perform complex tasks. These advances will result in the design of new materials with properties not found in naturally occurring systems, enabling entirely new technologies. A second research effort takes advantage of how materials naturally separate into distinct phases like oil and water. The research team leverages the physics of demixing to manipulate the assembly of proteins, cells, and other soft materials to engineer living matter. Potential applications include new avenues for partitioning and controlled release of key molecules inside cells, akin to drug delivery, and creating new tissue-like materials, thereby significantly advancing synthetic biology, biotechnology, and medicine. The LRSM educates and inspires the next generation of materials scientists and engineers, broadening participation in the materials research enterprise. The LRSM offers programs and activities for students at all levels, from elementary school to graduate school, and provides professional training at the post-doctoral level. These activities include summer camps and workshops that introduce students to the exciting world of materials science through hands-on experiments and demonstrations, research opportunities and mentorship that allows students to participate in scientific projects and learn from experts in the field, and outreach events and online resources that highlight the diversity and impact of materials science to the broader public. The LRSM also provides access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment for materials research, allowing researchers at Penn, regional and national universities, government laboratories, and industries to advance their own research activities.


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