The National Science Foundation launched the Materials Innovation Platforms (MIPs) program in 2016 to create a new kind of national user facility. Two sets of platforms, established in 2016 and 2020, fulfill critical national needs for crystal growth and for materials-biology convergence to develop new materials.
The core of MIPs is the MGI approach, with tightly integrated activities of materials synthesis, characterization, and theory/modeling. Research infrastructure is crucial to the operation of the MIPs, consisting of a suite of experimental and computational tools that democratizes access and attracts hundreds of users nationwide. The 2016 MIPs feature molecular beam epitaxy for depositing a majority of the elements in the periodic table including alkalis, the world's first floating-zone furnace under 300-atm pressure of reactive gases, a transmission electron microscope with world-record spatial resolution, and reactive force field codes for two-dimensional materials that have been downloaded by hundreds of researchers. De novo glycan synthesis, automatic gene assembly, and robotic synthesis of non-petrochemical-based polymers anchor the 2020 MIPs.
Knowledge sharing is a signature feature of MIPs. By design, each MIP is a scientific ecosystem, where materials researchers share tools, codes, samples, data, and know-how, as well as training of the next generation of scientists. MIPs enable the entire community of researchers to immediately benefit from the latest developments and to also build upon and improve them through the open exchange of ideas.
The MIP program represents a new modality for research and training, for the purpose of accelerating discovery and development of new materials and novel materials phenomena/properties, as well as fostering their eventual deployment.