MIT Reports to the President 1997-98


The Materials Processing Center is an interdisciplinary center within MIT's School of Engineering directed by Prof. Lionel C. Kimerling. It was established in 1980 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 focused on the following six basic industrial sectors: biomaterials; primary materials; structural materials; electronics; transportation; and energy.

Our metric for the value of this research is its impact on commercial and defense applications.

The mission of the Materials Processing Center (MPC) 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: creates new knowledge; produces knowledgeable people; and promotes exchange of information in the service of our nation in the context of a global community.

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 approximately 150 faculty, research staff, visiting scientists, and graduate and undergraduate students.

The MPC builds upon MIT's history of close ties with industry. We have a 43-member Industrial Collegium of domestic and international companies, which provides a window on the state-of-the-art in materials research and development at MIT, and provides an outlet for our research results to industry. In this way, the Collegium provides a technology transfer pathway between university research and industrial innovation. Part of our strategy is to leverage core federal research funding into expanded industrial collaborations. MPC Industrial support currently stands at 45% of our total budget.


The MPC initiates programs 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 materials community strengths, collaborate in new and creative ways, and pursue the most meaningful research. In 1998, we expanded our Materials Day at MIT celebration to include a workshop, poster session and dinner with our students, faculty and industrial guests. The theme was Design Paradigms in Materials Processing: Real Solutions to Real Problems -- the engineering process through which science is converted effectively into technology. It highlighted the unique intellectual breadth and depth of our interdisciplinary materials community and its focus on industrial applications.

The MPC sponsors three research-funding initiatives: the MPC Visiting Scholar Program; the MPC Young Faculty Seed Program; and the MPC Research Initiative Seed Program.

The 1998 MPC Visiting Scholar is Dr. Kazumi Wada of NTT, who is working with Professor Kimerling in the area of microelectronics. Professors Sandra Burkett, Paul Laibinis and William Green received separate MPC Young Faculty Seed awards to launch research and develop program initiatives with industrial and national laboratory collaborators. The MPC also provides initiative funding to the faculty leaders of each of our six basic industrial sectors to facilitate core intellectual, development, and research program initiatives.

The MPC continues to maintain the MPC Short Course Library. This listing of short technical seminars led by MIT faculty and senior research staff, offers MIT's industrial partners a concise and focused guide to the expertise of MIT's materials community, spanning several School of Engineering departments.

Other highlights from the past year include nearly $2.1M in new industrial research support initiated by the faculty research staff of the MPC in FY98, as well as four new members to the MPC Industry Collegium.


Research highlights from the past year are too numerous to report in detail here but available at our web site One specific example that highlights both the interdisciplinary and the collaborative intensity of our programs is the NSF funded ERC for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing. The program is designed to address back end processes with an emphasis on interconnects, front end processes emphasizing surface preparation, etching and cleaning, and factory operations including water and energy usage. This ERC includes Stanford and UC Berkeley where the focus is on process and atomistic modeling, and Arizona is primarily responsible for educational outreach. Altogether, over 25 companies, 35 faculty and research staff, and 40 students are participating in this 5-year effort. The MIT faculty consist of Professor Lionel Kimerling in Materials Science & Engineering, Professors Karen Gleason and Herbert Swain in Chemical Engineering, and Professors Rafael Reif and Duane Boning in EECS.


While the scientific 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 43-member Industry Collegium provides the MPC faculty and senior research staff with the necessary gateway to industry. The staff of the MPC works closely with both our Industry Collegium and Industrial Advisory Board members to understand their needs and match these with the expertise of our faculty. During the past year, MPC faculty and research staff have acquired nearly $2.1 million in industrial research support from a total of 12 individual companies and federally funded industrial collaborations. This includes:

The MPC provides an active industrial outreach function for the broad, interdepartmental materials community at MIT, and leverages the Industry 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 represents 75% of graduate education, the health of our academic community is dependent upon our ability to work effectively to serve the needs of 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 ongoing challenge is to reach directly into industrial operating units where timely solutions are needed and ideas become commercial innovations.

Internally, we are structured to focus on establishing specific research program areas based on strong external industrial partnerships. It should also be noted that this approach requires our continued expansion of our direct interaction with other MIT labs, centers, and departments including LEES, RLE, MTL, the OR Center, LFM, the Manufacturing Institute, TELAC, and the Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Physics Departments.

Our overall research objective is to add at least an additional $2M in industrial support in FY99. 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, continued during FY98 with projects at Allegheny-Ludlum Corporation and Lord Corporation.

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 us with 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 16th class includes ten. The program provides the faculty with much needed seed support for exploratory research projects and continues to meet our goal of providing undergraduates with an array of multidisciplinary research opportunities in materials.


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 out-sourced research and development. We have restructured internally to identify Research Program Areas and externally with stronger industrial partnerships. We are successful if we maintain a strong, dedicated Industry Collegium; motivate faculty and students to address pivotal issues in materials processing and manufacturing; involve women and minority faculty and students; andcontinue to increase the research throughout the Center in the next year.

More information about the Materials Processing Center can be found on the World Wide Web at the following URL:

Lionel C. Kimerling

MIT Reports to the President 1997-98