Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On the US-Africa Materials Institute (USAMI)

© National Science Foundation

The USAMI is a virtual institute that was crated in 2003 with sponsorship from the Division of Materials Research of the National Science Foundation. The initiative aims at promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between U.S. and African researchers in the areas of materials research and education. This is achieved by:
  • Sponsoring research visits by African Scientists to U.S. Universities to engage in USAMI-sponsored research.
  • Sponsoring the visits to Africa for U.S. researchers and students to engage in research and education activities.
  • Organizing workshops to bring materials scientists and engineers together.
  • Using virtual tools to promote education activities at all levels of U.S. Africa Materials research.

USAMI scientists have access to well equipped labs for doing work in cutting-edge areas such as nanomaterials and biomaterials. There are also labs for micro-testing, mechanical/tribological testing, materials characterization (IAC Labs) and micro-/nano-fabrication (PRISM clean room) and workstations for computational simulations/experiments. These facilities are available to USAMI fellows and students along with the resources at more participating universities in the U.S.*

The research themes focus on two broad areas: Advanced Materials and Structures, and Materials for Societal Development. In the area of Advanced Materials and Structures, the objective is to engage African and U.S. scientists in research and education activities that can advance the frontiers of nanoscience and biomaterials science. Ongoing activities in nanoscience include: studies of the mechanical and electrical properties of nanoscale thin films, MEMS contacts (adhesion and stiction phenomena) and novel low-cost methods for the fabrication of organic electronics.

In the area of biomaterials science, ongoing efforts include studies of multi-scale cell/surface interactions, and integrated efforts to develop BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles for disease detection and treatment. So far BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles have been developed for the detection and treatment of cancer. However, initial efforts are being made to extend these to other diseases such as FIV/HIV.

As for the research on materials for societal development is exploring new ways of using knowledge from materials science to develop affordable and holistic approaches to basic human needs such as housing, potable water and energy for cooking. New ways are also being explored to add value to African raw materials such as clays and aluminosilicates that are used extensively as refractory ceramics.

Brown University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Howard University, Iowa State University, Lehigh University, Ohio State University, Rutgers University, University of Michigan, University of Tennessee, Yale University
© USAMI/Princeton University

No comments: