Takeuchi Wins $488K DURIP Award

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Ichiro Takeuchi, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Maryland (UMD), has received a Defense University Instrumentation Initiative Program (DURIP) $488,000 award from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for a project entitled, “New Phase Change Materials for Photonics: Closed-loop Autonomous Atomic-layer Design and Synthesis via Artificial Intelligence.”

The funding will be available this coming spring and utilized for the purchase of a pulsed laser deposition (PLD) system, which will be housed in the Keck Lab for Combinatorial Nanosynthesis, which is part of the Maryland Nanocenter. This PLD system, a thin film fabrication tool, will focus on phase change memory materials

“Phase change memory materials are used for CD-RW (read/write) and DVD-RW and other information processing devices,” Takeuchi said. “Their unique properties include being able to be turned ‘on’ and ‘off’ using electrical current pulses, as well as laser optical pulses. Their application in CD-RW and others have been around for decades, but there have been renewed attention and interests in these materials with development of higher efficiency switching materials, and new applications such as neuromorphic computing. In neuromorphic computing, devices operate like brain synapses and feature multiple level states.”

A key feature of the new tool is that Takeuchi’s group will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help control the materials synthesis.

“We’ve been developing AI-based techniques to help streamline experimental procedures,” said Takeuchi. “It’s called autonomous experimentation (AE). Similar to an autonomous vehicle, AE self-directs the sequence of work procedure by itself without human intervention. Previously, our AE project focused on materials characterization, but with the new PLD tool, we plan to do synthesis as well as characterization, all controlled by a machine-learning algorithm in a closed loop.”  

DURIP – a program administered by the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force research offices – is designed to improve the capabilities of higher education institutions to conduct research and to educate scientists and engineers in areas important to national defense, by providing funds for the acquisition of research equipment or instrumentation. This Department of Defense program is administered by three agencies: Army Research Office (ARO)Office of Naval Research (ONR), and Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

Published December 31, 2021