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KNOXVILLE — Grants totaling $4.73 million to researchers at the University of Tennessee College of Engineering and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will establish an international center here to study neutron sciences and materials research.

The five-year contracts include $3.6 million from the National Science Foundation and the remainder from the Tennessee Advanced Materials Laboratory, the Center for Materials Processing, the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences and other UT offices.

Provost Loren Crabtree said the grant will establish the International Materials Institute at UT as part of an international Advanced Neutron Scattering netWork for Education and Research, or ANSWER.

“This grant, our relationship to ORNL, and establishment of this institute all illustrate the University of Tennessee’s great potential to become a leading international research center, especially in the high technology field of neutron sciences,” Crabtree said.

“We are proud of our engineering researchers and faculty, whose hard work and expertise are responsible for this outstanding support from the NSF.”

Dr. Fred Tompkins, interim dean of engineering, said UT, Princeton, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute received the only three NSF international materials institute grants out of more than 70 proposals.

“Neutron scattering is one of the most powerful techniques available for materials research,” Tompkins said. “The Spallation Neutron Source in nearby Oak Ridge provides a unique opportunity for UT to partner with SNS and lead the nation in the science and education of the application of neutron scattering in materials research, specifically in the study of mechanical behavior of advanced materials.”

Institute researchers are Dr. Peter Liaw, Dr. Hahn Choo, and Dr. Raymond Buchanan of the college’s materials science and engineering department, and Dr. Camden R. Hubbard and Dr. Xun-Li Wang of ORNL.

Liaw is director; Choo, co-director; Tompkins will head education programs; and Buchanan will head faculty recruitment.

Hubbard and Wang will oversee an exchange program, neutron workshops, and colloquia. Dr. John Ray, a UT education professor, will assist in program assessment.

Liaw said the institute seeks to develop an international neutron scattering network for innovative, multi-disciplinary materials research and education. Goals include:

– Advancing fundamental understanding of mechanical behavior of materials using state-of-the-art neutron sources.

– Developing an international network of researchers and educators in the field of neutron scattering.

– Facilitating exchange of scientific information through collaborative research and a global partnership network.

– Developing a world-class workforce by providing universities and researchers access to neutron scattering and materials research programs around the world via international exchange programs.

– Establishing educational training for the general public, K-12, college students, and post-doctoral associates.

– Maintaining a research database and establishing a “virtual” institute on the Internet.

Other university participants in the International Materials Institute include the California Institute of Technology, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Missouri at Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania.

National laboratory facilities that will be used in the institute’s research include SNS, the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge, the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center in New Mexico, and the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

Corporate participants include ALCOA, Boeing Company, DANA Corporation, Federal Mogul, the General Electric Company, Haynes International Inc., and Solar Turbines Inc.

The project also will include researchers and neutron scattering facilities from foreign universities and national laboratories in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, China, and Korea, Liaw said.