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Washington State University
WSU Research Foundational and Emergent Materials

Foundational and emergent materials

Building blocks of tomorrow’s infrastructures

In an age of increasingly scarce resources, the materials of the future must rise to the highest standards. Industries must be able to produce them with Spartan efficiency. The materials themselves must be environmentally friendly. They must perform better than anything has before.

WSU scientists design new materials that will form the foundation of tomorrow’s infrastructures. Through exploration that spans physics, chemistry, and computational design, they create emergent materials, or new substances that push the boundaries of possibility. These materials possess essential physical properties that exceed the sum of their component parts. Among WSU scientists’ innovations:

Their innovations solve critical problems to make your life safer, healthier, and easier.

 Research areas

  • Multifunctional, multiphysics, and smart materials
  • Sensors and wide bandgap semiconductors
  • Bio-based materials and green manufacturing
  • Computational materials science
  • Mike Kessler and student in lab Shape-shifting material advances the Internet of Things

    Scientist develop the first material with multiple responsive behaviors

    Imagine airplanes and roads that self-heal after exterior damage. Imagine wearing clothes that monitor your health needs. Innovations like these require smart materials, which not only capture and analyze data, but change in response to findings.

    Smart materials are the building blocks of the Internet of Things—a network of objects embedded with electronics, software, and connectivity. This network produces enormous volumes of actionable data.

    While there are barriers to overcome before smart materials hit the mainstream, a recent discovery made at WSU will accelerate their advancement.

    New kind of smart material

    A team led by Mike … » More …

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  • A closeup of a wooden building Creating jobs through sustainable building technologies

    Cross-laminated timber could invigorate the regional economy

    Buildings stand among the nation’s leading producers of greenhouse gases. To blame is the energy used to operate them and the carbon-heavy materials required to construct them. With populations increasingly shifting toward urban centers, construction will only continue. Reducing emissions created by urban growth will require rethinking our built environment.

    Much of that rethinking is happening at WSU, where architecture and engineering scholars are designing future skylines made of wood. Not often used in today’s urban infrastructures, wood is a renewable resource. It can be sustainably forested and manufactured into panels that have high-performance properties comparable to those of … » More …

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