UC Santa Barbara's Material Research Laboratory. | Credit: Courtesy

UC Santa Barbara’s Material Research Laboratory has been chosen as one of the nine universities awarded an $18 million grant from the National Science Institute, to be distributed over a six-year period. This is the seventh consecutive grant for the facility, and grant funding will go toward supporting innovative materials research in the fields of technology, environment, and medicine. 

Recognized as one of the top five materials research facilities in the world, the Material Research Laboratory at UCSB brings together multiple disciplines, including physics, chemistry, life science, and engineering, to better understand the properties and performances of materials. This grant cycle will enable 20 UCSB scientists and engineers from eight different departments to collaborate on generating and testing ideas that will impact fields ranging from transportation to health care. 

The grant has been touted by Congressmember Salud Carbajal, who highlighted the success of the laboratory as part of the region’s broader excellence in innovation. “Between our research universities, local ventures, and the various incredible space projects taking place right here, the Central Coast is already home to so many technological advancements. This funding allows our community to continue sitting on the precipice of the next great discovery.” 

Collective discovery is a fundamental part of the facility, which allows all university members and the surrounding community to access the resources at the laboratory. These resources include a world-class characterization facility — supported by the grant — which synthesizes and analyzes materials. According to a news release by UCSB’s College of Engineering, more than 100 faculty groups from UCSB and other universities, along with nearly 60 companies, have used the laboratory’s technologies to conduct research, including startups sprung from their discoveries there. 

“This opportunity awards the Central Coast more resources to grow and transform into the technological hub we know it has the potential to be,” said Carbajal.


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