MIT Reports to the President 1995-96


The mission of the Materials Processing Center is to provide an environment where students and professionals from industry, government, and academia collaborate to identify and address pivotal multidisciplinary issues in materials processing and manufacturing in a way that (1) creates new knowledge, (2) produces knowledgeable people, and (3) promotes exchange of information in the service of our nation in the context of a global community.

The Materials Processing Center is an interdisciplinary center within MIT's School of Engineering in response to a recognized national need to improve the materials processing knowledge base and streamline the process of translating materials research results into industrial innovations and applications. Center research covers a broad range of materials and processes and focuses on six basic industrial sectors: electronics, transportation, energy, biomaterials, primary materials, and construction. Our metric for the value of this research is impact in applications. The MPC has a 40-member Industrial Collegium of domestic and international companies that provide a window on the state-of-the-art in materials processes and an outlet for our research results.

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field of materials processing, faculty and research staff affiliated with the Center come from a range of fields beyond the traditional materials science and engineering group. Significant contributions are being made by specialists in chemical engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, chemistry, nuclear engineering, and ocean engineering. Center research involves over 150 faculty, research staff, visiting scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students.

The MPC builds upon MIT's history of close ties with industry. The Collegium further strengthens this link between university research and industrial innovation. Our strategy is to leverage core federal funding into expanded industrial collaborations. MPC Industry support currently stands at 42% of our total budget.



Over the past year the MPC has initiated several programs designed to enhance the intellectual vitality of the materials processing community at MIT. By measuring the value of these initiatives in terms of the intellectual core they create, we hope to define our community strengths, collaborate in new and creative ways, and pursue the most meaningful research. In 1996 we began a series of Vision Workshops, designed to explore issues and generate priorities for emerging fields of materials-related research. The first series of Vision Workshops, in Automotive Processing and Manufacturing Needs, was held early in 1996. Two other Vision workshops, focused on Optoelectronics and Biomaterials are planned for later this year.

In 1995, the MPC instituted three new research funding initiatives: (1) the MPC Visiting Scholar Program, (2) the MPC Young Faculty Seed Program, and (3) the MPC Research Seed Program. The first MPC Visiting Scholar is Dr. Ilan Blech, who is working with Profs. Suresh, Thompson, and Kimerling in the area of micromechanics of thin film metals and laminates. Prof. Chris Scott received the first Young Faculty Seed award, to develop an industrially funded program in the cellular automata computation technique for simulation of droplet breakup and coalescence in polymer compounding flows. MIT's High Temperature Electronic Systems (HTES) group, under the direction of Dr. John Haggerty, received the first Research Seed award, to develop a research plan for a new high temperature-power-frequency electronics and packaging technology based on wide bandgap materials such as SiC.

The MPC has also instituted a number of new information distribution services over the past year. The MPC Short Course Library, which was compiled and published in February 1996, is a listing of short technical seminars led by MIT faculty and senior research staff. This Library, which we hope will grow in scope with future editions, offers MIT's industrial partners a concise and focused guide to the expertise of MIT's materials processing community, spanning several School of Engineering departments. Over the past year, the MPC has also instituted a materials subject-related scan of the Commerce Business Daily, which is available electronically through MIT's Office of Sponsored Programs. Since its inception last summer, this wholly electronic service has alerted our faculty to important federal research funding opportunities. The MPC has also begun the Materials Abstract Distribution service (MAD), which helps MIT students and faculty stay abreast of their colleagues' work across the wide spectrum of Center research projects.

Other highlights from the past year include nearly $1M in new industrial research support initiated by the MPC in FY96, as well as an additional six new members for the MPC Industry Collegium.


Research highlights from the past year are too numerous to report in detail here. A sampling of some of the important breakthroughs achieved by our faculty, research staff, and students follows.


While the foundation of the materials processing community at MIT has been established with federal research support, our future success will be measured by our ability to leverage this knowledge base into industrially relevant applications. Our 40-member Industry Collegium provides the MPC with the necessary gateway to industry. The staff of the MPC works closely with both our Collegium and Industrial Advisory Board members to understand their needs and match these with the expertise of our faculty. During the past year, these activities were directly responsible for the addition of nearly $1 million in industrial research support from a total of six companies. This includes the continuing support by Master Builders Corporation for Prof. Edwin Thomas' development of block co-polymers which exhibit anisotropic mechanical properties. These materials are ideal as cement joint compounds, as well as floor and roof barrier coatings. A funded visiting scientist from Finland, working with Dr. Robert O'Handley, has demonstrated a novel shape memory effect. Guest researchers represent an effective technology transfer function for their companies. Prof. Uday Pal has also launched a two-year program with Griffin Pipe Products Company to explore novel cupola metal refining techniques. Prof. Michael Cima's research group has made a major advance in processing for bulk coating of granular materials, which has been rapidly implemented by the sponsor, saving more than $500K in raw materials cost annually. In addition, our initiative with small companies continues to expand. Prof. Eugene Fitzgerald's SBIR project on integrated optoelectronics with Discovery Semiconductors has moved into an expanded Phase II program.


The MPC provides an active industrial outreach function for the broad, interdepartmental materials community at MIT, using the Collegium to expand our relationships with industry and capitalize on the link between university research and industrial innovation. Our success is reflected by increased industrial research volume in the face of increasing academic and industrial competition for shrinking federal research support. Given that research is 75% of graduate education, the health of our academic community is dependent upon our ability to work effectively with and in a manner that is profitable to industry. Downsized U.S. companies are increasingly dependent upon out-sourced solutions to current problems and are actively seeking future growth opportunities via longer term exploration of new products, processes, and directions. Our challenge is to reach directly into industrial operating units where timely solutions are needed and ideas become innovations.

An effort is underway to leverage an initial proof-of-process effort with Millipore into an expanded consortium of chemical, equipment, and electronic OEM companies to develop and commercialize an innovative wafer monitoring device and ultraclean manufacturing process monitor based on radio frequency photoconductance decay (RFPCD). This process monitor is being developed for introduction into next-generation semiconductor processing and fabrication equipment.

The MPC is also working with the Department of Chemical Engineering to develop a fundamental basis for predicting texture development in polymers. Professors Thomas, Armstrong, Rutledge, and Scott pool their collective molecular, morphological, and rheological modeling and processing expertise in this coordinated multidisciplinary approach. Hoechst Celanese anticipates that increased insight into the hierarchical nature of texture development during formation processes will lead to the production of novel extrudate morphologies with significantly improved performance profiles. This project is an excellent example of how our fundamental knowledge and research can lead directly and efficiently to industrial innovation. Personnel exchanges between MIT and Hoechst Celanese will provide a rapid knowledge and technology transfer vehicle.

Additional initiatives are also underway that leverage the industrial access provided by our Industry Collegium. One example is an initiative with PPG to appoint one of their senior research and product development professionals as a full-time visiting scientist within the MPC. While industrial visiting scientists are certainly not new to MIT, this visit explores the depth and breadth of our research, how we conduct research, what may be of interest to PPG, and how and where we might work together in the future. In short, PPG uses this opportunity to explore how best to utilize MIT as both an intellectual and technological resource.

Internally, we are structured to focus on establishing specific research program areas based on strong external industrial partnerships. Some of these initiatives are described above. It should also be noted that this approach has expanded our direct interaction with other MIT labs, centers, and departments including LEES, the OR Center, LFM, the Manufacturing Institute, Plasma Fusion Center, and the Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Physics Departments.

Our overall research objective is to add at least an additional $1M in industrial support in FY97. This target is clearly obtainable with currently identified industrial partnership opportunities.


The Materials Processing and Manufacturing Institute, launched in partnership with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, had a total of six students enrolled in the Program for FY96. This program provides both MIT faculty and students with the opportunity to participate in high priority, proprietary industrial site projects. Students receive the combined benefits of an MIT academic experience and industrial research practice. This program provides the additional opportunity to have significant impact in the real world while educating the faculty-student teams to this goal.

The MPC continues its Summer Research Internship with the Center for Materials Science and Engineering. This 13th class includes nine undergraduates, eight from other universities. The program provides the faculty with much needed seed support for exploratory projects and continues to meet its goal of providing undergraduates with an array of multidisciplinary research opportunities in materials.


The MPC has no faculty on its rank list. In our hiring of staff we make every effort to locate qualified minorities or women, in full compliance with MIT's affirmative action policies.


MPC is one of few, and by far the largest, university research centers with a materials processing emphasis. Our Collegium represents the strongest industry research interface at MIT. The MPC is ideally positioned to take advantage of the national shift in emphasis to engineering practice and cooperative research. We have restructured internally to identify Research Program Areas and externally with stronger partnerships. We are successful if we (1) maintain a strong, dedicated Industry Collegium; (2) motivate faculty and students to address pivotal issues in materials processing and manufacturing; (3) involve women and minority faculty and students; and (4) continue to increase the research throughput of the Center in the next year.

Lionel C. Kimerling

MIT Reports to the President 1995-96