Center for Hierarchical Materials Design

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 U.S. Government'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.

The objectives of CHiMaD are:

  • To foster hierarchical materials discovery, in accordance with the goals of MGI and NIST, by developing the next generation of computational tools, databases and experimental techniques
  • To connect and convene the current experts and the next generation of scientists by advancing multi-disciplinary and multi-sector communication through workshops, seminars, training opportunities and meetings
  • To provide opportunities to transition new breakthroughs in advanced materials to industry
  • To adopt a seamless integration of prediction, measurement and interpretation
  • To maintain and advance the collective knowledge on material systems and methodologies
  • To serve, together with NIST, as a national resource for verified codes and curated databases that will enable proliferation of a materials-by-design strategy and materials discovery through US industry partners
  • To build on the established success in metal alloy systems to prove generality through application to both inorganic and organic advanced systems for both structural and multifunctional applications, pursuing common materials-by-design architecture and approaches for both
  • To expand the 3D and 4D methods for hard materials design and to bring such methods to the forefront of soft materials design