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Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD)

Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) is a NIST-sponsored center of excellence for advanced materials research focusing on developing the next generation of computational tools, databases and experimental techniques in order to enable the accelerated design of novel materials and their integration to industry, one of the primary goals of the Obama administration’s Materials Genome Initiative (MGI).

This Chicago-based consortium includes Northwestern University (NU) as the lead, University of Chicago (UChicago), Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering (NAISE), a partnership between Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory, and the Computational Institute (CI), a partnership between University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. The consortium is also partnered with Questek Innovations, a pioneering materials design company, ASM International and Fayetteville State University.

Designing novel materials of specific properties for a particular application requires simultaneously utilizing physical theory, advanced computational methods and models, materials properties databases and complex calculations. This approach stands in contrast to the traditional trial-and-error method of materials discovery. CHiMaD aims to focus this approach on the creation of novel hierarchical materials which exploit distinct structural details at various scales, from the atomic on up, to obtain enhanced properties. The center's research focuses on both organic and inorganic advanced materials in fields as diverse as self-assembled biomaterials, smart materials for self-assembled circuit designs, organic photovoltaic materials, advanced ceramics and metal alloys.