| The Center for Sensor Materials (CSM)
at Michigan State University, created in 1994, is one of the NSF Materials
Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC). The MRSEC program
represents a coherent approach by the NSF Division of Materials Research
to stimulate and enhance research on materials problems of critical importance.
The structure of the MRSEC Centers is such that university-based scientists
and engineers are able to address problems of a scale and complexity that
lie beyond the capabilities of individual investigator projects.
The Michigan State University MRSEC focuses its research on materials, sensors, and sensing technology, with emphasis on vehicular sensing systems. Since transportation systems consume a significant fraction of the world's energy resources, the need to reduce atmospheric pollutants and to improve overall vehicle efficiency represent two urgent societal goals. As a result of the enormous scale of the automotive and aerospace sectors, even small advances can translate into a major impact on the global environment, the national economy, and public health. Although environmental standards have been enacted with the expectation of mandating these reforms, compliance has proven difficult in many instances due to a clear lack of fundamental knowledge about the performance of complex transportation systems. Since sensing devices are the key components for diagnosing and controlling vehicle performance, research on sensors and sensor materials is a central element in achieving these goals.
The Center is organized into two interdisciplinary research groups(IRG). Research in the two groups represents two complementary approaches: Photonic Sensing Materials and Electronic Sensing Materials. They comprise faculty, staff, and students from five academic departments: Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. The multidisciplinary background of members in the IRGs, with substantial involvement by some participants in both groups, gives a dynamic environment where solutions to problems can be explored from several perspectives. The CSM coordinates its research facilities with the Center for Fundamental Materials Research (CFMR) on the Michigan State campus.
As a central part of its mission, the Center addresses science education at the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. Undergraduate and graduate students receive formal courses that address the specialized, as well as the broad, aspects of materials education. Students get access in state-of-the-art Shared Facilities to do research within the team approach of the MRSEC, which prepares them to work in industry as well as academia. To promote science education among K-12 students, the Center offers a week-long summer science camp, Sensing our World, for middle and junior high school students.