I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Martin Ottmar and his colleagues for offering us the privilege of preparing this special issue of Advanced Materials dedicated to research at CRISP. CRISP was established in 2005 through a grant from the U. S. National Science Foundation MRSEC (Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) program. The NSF-MRSEC program has been outstandingly successful over many years, currently supporting 27 university-based centers pursuing forefront, multidisciplinary materials research of a scope and complexity that would not be feasible under traditional funding of individual research projects.

CRISP is among the newer and smaller MRSECs, initially focusing on complex oxide interfaces. Complex metal oxides display a tremendous diversity of functional properties: bandgaps ranging from the infrared to the ultraviolet; electronic properties including superconducting, metallic, semiconducting, and insulating behavior; magnetic properties that include ferromagnetism, colossal magnetoresistance, and antiferromagnetism; and dielectric properties ranging from low-k insulating behavior to ferroelectricity, pyroelectricity and piezoelectricity. In some cases, these properties have been observed only in complex oxides. As diverse as this behavior is, an even broader spectrum of possibilities can be anticipated when two or more complex oxides are sandwiched together with atomic-scale precision in nanoscale thin-film heterostructures to create new, artificially structured materials systems. In many of these systems, the interesting action occurs entirely at the interface, and an atomic-level determination of the electronic and chemical interactions at the interface is crucial in order to discover and understand new phenomena and to explore innovative applications for modern electronics and surface chemistry. Several of CRISP’s recent accomplishments in this area are described in this issue of Advanced Materials.

In addition to the complex oxide interface research, CRISP has recently formed an interdisciplinary team to explore the optics of amorphous nano­structures, inspired in part by the striking colors of the feathers of certain birds. In these cases, the bright colors are not due to absorption by pigments. Rather, they result from wavelength-selective scattering by textured arrays of nano-domains. Understanding the nature of the underlying spatial correlations, and using this knowledge to fabricate artificial structures with desired properties, may lead to a variety of novel applications.

As I believe the accompanying articles show, CRISP has made significant research accomplishments in its short history. In addition, CRISP has developed a network of international collaborators, has assembled state-of-the-art materials growth and characterization facilities, and has successfully integrated materials science into the education of students at all levels, from elementary to graduate school. We are now poised to make even more exciting discoveries, and to further nucleate collaborative materials research on the Yale campus.

Biographical Information

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  2. Biographical Information
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John Tully serves as the Director of CRISP, the Center for Research on Interface Structures and Phenomena. He began his independent research career at Bell Laboratories, where he held the position of Head of the Materials Chemistry Research Department. He joined the faculty of Yale University in 1996 and is currently Sterling Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics and Applied Physics. His research focuses on the development and application of theoretical approaches to the dynamics of molecular motion at surfaces.