UB asks for $50 million in state funding

Center of Excellence for Materials Informatics expects to have facility

On February 7, 2013


UB is asking for $50 million, along with $1 million per year, in state funding to build a facility for its Center of Excellence for Materials Informatics.

The division, which does not have a building, opened last year and brought more than 40 scientists to develop new or modified materials to make better products that people use every day. President Satish Tripathi said funding to give the center a facility is UB's main priority for the year.

Chemistry professor Sarbajit Banerjee is heavily involved in materials informatics. He describes the research as a new way of designing and processing materials to create products in ceramics, plastics and gels.

"There are a number of research areas that people are working on at UB," Banerjee said. "We'll bring some of these students [to] help translate these projects into reality, help our industry partners in the region to grow their businesses, to hire more people and to make New York a hub for advanced manufacturing and research materials."

Banerjee, students and scientists are finding ways to better products, like constructing windows to block heat from warm temperatures and bring heat inside when it's cold.

Researchers in materials informatics have also found ways to better purify water, find cheaper and more affordable solar cells and develop less toxic coating to rustproof steal.

"There are certain rare earth elements which have very small quantities of materials available and they are depleting," Tripathi said. "These materials are very important for national defense, the electronic industry and for a lot of [manufacturing] that gets done. The question is: What is the alternative for these materials?"

Tripathi emphasized the local and national need for materials informatics research - he said it will bring an abundance of jobs to Western New York and improve economic development in the Buffalo Niagara region.

Tripathi has high hopes for the center's potential super-computing system, which will analyze different materials and combinations and detect what will form as a result.

Alexander Cartwright, vice president of research, said material informatics can be used in a variety of research like nanotechnology connection in studying and treating Alzheimer's.

"What people do is they have to figure out a way to make all of the nanoparticles go into the brain," Cartwright said. "That is material science. What is the material you use? What is the signature that you're looking for when you're doing the imaging? All of that is part of what we're doing in material science."

The construction process will provide jobs for those involved in manufacturing and building facilities. The progression of research will also lead to employment for students and scientists.

UB Spokesman John Della Contrada said UB has collaborated with dozens of companies across the nation regarding materials research and the center's potential. Local companies like Nanobiox and Graphic Devices are also involved.

"These companies represent a range of industries, including advanced manufacturing, medical devices and clean technology," Della Contrada said in an email. "The companies have expressed strong interest in partnering with UB and in hiring students who have received in extensive training and education across the materials science."

A location will not be determined until the money is secured.

UB continues to focus on obtaining state funding. Della Contrada said UB is talking with members of the Western New York Legislative Delegation about how the center can lead to success for UB, its students and the economy of Western New York. The delegation continues to support the project.

If the money is provided, it will take several years to complete the building.


Email: news@ubspectrum.com

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