AsianScientist (Oct. 15, 2021) – The National University of Singapore (NUS) brings smart solutions to new heights with the launch of the world’s first institute dedicated to developing functional intelligent materials. Led by Nobel Prize-winning materials scientist Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov and Distinguished Professor Antonio Castro Neto, the Institute for Functional Intelligent Materials (I-FIM) is NUS’ newest national Research Center of Excellence (RCE).
Just a few decades ago, smart technologies capable of responding to our environment and needs seemed like nothing more than a sci-fi dream. Today, smart traffic lights, home assistants and door locks play a prominent role in our daily lives. But what if we could take it a step further and create intelligent and responsive materials?
Typically, materials like wool or steel have fixed properties. With the launch of I-FIM, researchers intend to create intelligent and adaptive materials that can change dynamically according to the environment. By leveraging modern tools like machine learning and artificial intelligence, researchers at I-FIM will be able to develop materials that can be applied across a variety of solutions from smart batteries to artificial organs.
“It was very clear from the very beginning that material scientists with centuries of old techniques wouldn’t be able to tackle this problem. I would say that we are at the avant-garde of all the world research in this area,” said Novoselov.
In line with NUS’ broader multidisciplinary approach, the institute is also focused on developing young talent over a range of disciplines like engineering, science, computing and business. To enrich the future of Singapore’s materials science ecosystem, I-FIM plans to offer 50 PhD scholarships and more than 100 post-doctoral fellowships over the next 10 years.
Closely aligned with the government’s S$25 billion Research, Innovation and Enterprise Plan 2025, the research conducted at I-FIM is expected to solve real-life problems and lead to greener, more affordable and smarter technologies. Currently, the team is working in the field of water treatment by developing smart membranes that can respond to the environment and maximize filtration and flow efficiency.
“We are looking to produce results for Singapore, but also for the world,” said Castro Neto. “We want to become a foundation of a new way of doing science: an interdisciplinary collaborative structure that will essentially make one plus one bigger than two.”
Source: National University of Singapore; Photo: Shutterstock.
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