NSF Track 1: Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics (2018-2023)

The Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics (CEMOs) will establish an interdisciplinary multi-institution materials research program between the four research universities: Jackson State University (JSU), Mississippi State University (MSU), the University of Mississippi (UM), and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), directed at critical and contemporary optoelectronic and energy challenges in key focus areas of fundamental science and engineering research and education. CEMOs will develop new, unified research methodologies to overcome fundamental limitations of organic semiconductors (OSCs) and address research challenges associated with:

• The integrated development and application of precision synthetic methods and sophisticated theoretical tools that afford insight into complex structure-property-performance relationships,
• Enabling the functionality of photoresponsive OSCs in the infrared (IR), and
• Controlling electronic structure to enable new functions, properties, multifunctional activities, and to discover new phenomena.

Research focus areas within CEMOs will work collaboratively to address these contemporary challenges through i) accelerating further progress on grand challenges in the areas of organic and hybrid electronics; ii) leveraging existing state-of-the-art infrastructure and building new, critical infrastructure in the form of instrumentation and tools for advanced materials research; and iii) developing human capital through combining a highly interdisciplinary team of scientists and promoting efforts to grow the STEM pipeline. 

OSC research is vital for the advancement of diverse technologies, such as sustainable energy, electronics, and biomedicine, critical to enhancing the competitiveness of existing industries and attracting new companies in the Mississippi Science and Technology (S&T) core priority areas of energy, advanced manufacturing, and health. Collaborations with national labs, universities, and industry will increase access to training and facilities, specialized instrumentation, new techniques, and world-leading expertise. These partnerships and collaborations will advance the research achievements of CEMOs and contribute to its sustainability.

Aligned with the Mississippi Science and Technology (S&T) Plan’s goal of growing and retaining a qualified STEM workforce, CEMOs workforce development efforts are integrated with the research focus areas and aimed at attracting, developing, and retaining top research talent and engaging a diverse body of K-14 students in STEM. The Center will provide interdisciplinary team training and professional development for faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate student researchers, with specific focus on advancement and retention of new faculty. CEMOs research-based education and outreach activities for K-14 students and teachers will be utilized to help build the pipeline of next-generation STEM students.

Overall, the Center will facilitate the development of research capabilities, infrastructure, and educational opportunities in important fields of optoelectronic, energy, and biotechnology research. These capabilities are critical to sustain and advance nationally competitive research programs, support basic and applied research, increase public awareness of STEM career opportunities, and establish and maintain a solid scientific infrastructure in our university system with the potential to translate into new technologies with the potential for job creation.

Principal Investigator: Julie Jordan, Mississippi State University
Co-PIs: Sarah Morgan, University of Southern Mississippi
            Glake Hill, Jackson State University
            Jared Delcamp, University of Mississippi
            Jason Azoulay, University of Southern Mississippi